God loves us. Most of us know that. His love, however, is not forceful. His love is powerful yet gentle. It can change our entire lives in an instant if we let it. He will always be there, ready, willing, and waiting for us to receive His tender love. There’s something truly transformative when we choose to step into it, believe it, and let it do its work. It’s a peculiar thing that God’s love would be so insanely potent, yet without our participation, there’s not much change. We have to be obedient and open up; we have to learn to listen and slow down. Self-care is learning that it’s okay to stop and let God take care of you.
I think remembering the Sabbath is a massive step toward self-care. God, the source of all things, chose to rest. He doesn’t need it the way we do, but He still chose it. He set in place a rhythm for His people. Hebrews 4:9-11 says:
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
In the Old-Testament, rest was mandatory. God knew we, as people, needed it, therefore, He required it. After Jesus came and fulfilled the law for us, we are given freedom this side of the cross. We still need the Sabbath, but no one is making us do it.
I was a part of a six-week study on Christianity where the teacher instructed us to practice sabbathing every day for a week. He phrased it just like that, “sabbathing.” At first, it caught me off guard. I had always thought of sabbath as a day, not an act, but the more I experienced it, I began to realize how powerful it can be as a state of mind rather than a box on a calendar. He asked us to take an hour out of our day to rest. Some people took slow walks while some people read books and journaled. There was one classmate who challenged me to sit in a chair and just stay. No book. No TV. No stimulation of any kind so that I could let my mind rest. I have to tell you it was extremely challenging, but the more I did it, the more I saw how much I needed it. Stillness is highly underrated.
Our minds can do a great deal of restoration if we let it rest and we choose into it on purpose. At first, it will feel very difficult, but we’ll talk more about that later. Choosing to rest teaches our minds to slow down, to savor the moment, to dig deep and be restored. Our minds are important, but there’s a lot more to our bodies than just the 3-pound ball of nerves at the top of our spines.
Ephesians 5:29-30 always puzzled me. It says, “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church…” (NIV, italics mine). This verse confused me because I understood the love that Christ has for the church, but it made such strange sense to parallel that to how we care for our own bodies. Most people that I have known don’t take good care of their bodies well. A lot of people drink energy drinks. They’re ordering fast food all the time. I know a lot of people who smoke and drink far more than they should. They aren’t trying to get good sleep. Even the people I know who become aware that their habits are harmful don’t take the time to correct them or even start making baby steps in a better direction. The idea of taking care of our bodies seems to have gotten lost somewhere. I know, I was lost there, too (see The Burger Epiphany). Paul says it in Ephesians like it should be an understood, obvious thing, yet it’s not.
I think we would all benefit by remembering that our bodies are temples, handcrafted in the likeness of the Creator of the Universe, and we should treat them as such. It would be unnerving to walk into St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican City and see it filled with trash. There would be rodents running around, feces on the floor, old food rotting, and trash heaping up against the walls. Surely, you wouldn’t see a gorgeous cathedral filled with filth, and in the same way, we should honor the temples we live in. In St. Peter’s there are rooms to clean and things to wash. There is a rhythm of maintenance that takes place to keep a beautiful building running smoothly. Our bodies are no different. We should shower and cut our hair. We should be active. We should seek to keep these vessels looking nice and running smoothly. We only hurt ourselves by forgetting that these walking talking temples have a Designer and Master Craftsman that created them. The art deserves honor.
The question now is how do you begin? As with any good adventure, it begins with a step. If there’s anything I’ve learned through this journey it’s that if you take one small step after another, if you don’t stop and keep moving forward, eventually you end up somewhere else.
I want you to know that although this may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Our God walks with you. He loves you so much and wants to see you succeed in this. The Holy Spirit is your Helper, and He will be with you as you begin to flesh this out. Step by step, He’ll show you the way. With His hand in yours, let’s move forward by reading How to Change Your Body.
Featured Image by Jeremy Bishop