Self-care is holy

In Luke Chapter 5, Jesus heals a man afflicted with leprosy. This passage falls in between Jesus calling the disciples to Himself and healing the paralytic. Right in the middle of all of this, Luke 5:16 states, “but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.”

Jesus Himself understood the importance of creating boundaries amidst His ministry and taking time to refresh Himself. We should look to His example, especially in our busy world today.

If we don’t take time to make sure that we are healthy and well, how can we expect to give of ourselves to others? A good friend always tells me, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” I am realizing more and more how true that really is.

We can only truly be present to others if we first take care of ourselves. This care may look different for each one of us. It helps to think of the things that refresh our soul. For me, it’s a good book, a long walk and making sure I am eating well and staying active. When I notice my focus slipping, or I start to get irritable, I know that I haven’t been fully caring for myself. I have to take a step back and do something that refreshes me, or else I won’t get what I need to do done. If I simply stare at the screen forcing the work to get done, it either won’t get done or it will get done poorly.

We want to give all we can to our lives at all times. We want to be fully present in our work life, in our social life and to the ones we love. But if we aren’t paying attention to what our bodies and minds need, it will become harder and harder to give others the attention they need from us.

We are doing others a disservice if we just push through these feelings, because they won’t be receiving us at our best or to our full capacity. Setting boundaries in our lives is of the utmost importance, especially now, when we are not only dealing with the normal stressors of everyday life, but also the added stress of a global pandemic, political upheaval and living through a new “unprecedented moment in time” every day.

It is more than understandable that we would need to take more time to care for ourselves during these days ahead, especially as we retreat from the holidays into the remainder of winter. We need to be increasingly understanding of when others say that something is just too much for them at this time. If we try and push others, instead of trusting and accepting their need to set boundaries, it could adversely affect all parties involved.

Lest I say it again, we are living in unprecedented times. We need to give ourselves some grace and give others the grace we wish would be bestowed upon us. Take the time. It will improve your life, and you can watch as it improves the lives of those around you. Be present, and when you can’t, say so and explain why. If we have the self-awareness to explain why we can’t be there fully for someone or something, it may give them the vocabulary to set boundaries as well. It may give them permission to do something they didn’t know they could do.

There is no rule book, but there is an example—“What would Jesus do?” He would retreat to the mountains to pray. That’s all the permission you need.