I don’t want to be selfish!
Isn’t kindness always best?
How can I be Christlike and take time for myself?
If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard a woman say these words to me when faced with hard decisions, I’d have a lot of money.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said these things to myself, I’d double that money!
I get it. We want to be loving, kind and gracious toward others. And those are good things. What we often don’t realize is that love, kindness, and graciousness flow from a heart that has received those qualities first. John put it this way “We love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
Receiving love is our most important ongoing act of obedience.
When our own tank is empty, it’s HARD to love others. It’s also hard to see clearly that love isn’t always what we think. When we’re run down, we might lash out at our kids, our friends, or the people we love. We ALSO might slip into “loving” pitfalls, such as:
- enabling others instead of empowering them.
- appeasing or indulging loved ones, instead of helping them grow.
- taking responsibility for someone’s issue that is not ours to fix.
When we’re run down, our “loving” actions can follow the path of least resistance. Self-care helps us recenter and gain Spirit-led wisdom.
Let me be clear: by self-care, I don’t mean bubble baths and pedicures, though those activities may well fill your tank on some level. I mean deep down care of yourself on the heart and soul level—the opening of your heart to the loving kindness and compassion God has for YOU.
Imagine yourself as a strong, yet vulnerable creation, like a flower or a beautiful plant. You need nourishment all the way down to your roots—not just to survive, but to radiate all that God made you to be. Now ask yourself:
When was the last time you stood with the sun on your face and soaked in God’s love?
What thoughts are you feeding on? Are you beating yourself up or feasting on God’s kindness and grace?
Are you taking a rest every once in a while. . . checking in with the state of your heart?
Self-care isn’t just about exercise and eating well (though caring for your physical body is important, don’t get me wrong.) It’s also about recharging your heart, soul, and mind. That means:
- stepping back to take IN love, joy, and kindness from God, others, and yourself.
- slowing down to connect to your emotions and being gentle with yourself.
- extending compassion toward the parts of you that are fearful, angry, or overwhelmed.
As you receive care, you have so much more to give others. You’re anchored in love from the inside out—a love that is powerful.
Nourishing your heart, mind, and soul strengthens the love you give out:
- Tasks become less about a checklist, and more about connection.
- You stop enabling others and create space for wisdom and grace instead.
- Kindness flows from inside of you, because you know what it’s like to be kind to yourself.
Self-care is the opposite of selfishness–it’s about replenishing your emotional and spiritual bank account.
Here are some signs it might be time for you to engage in self-care from the inside out:
1.) You’re irritable and short with everyone around you.
2.) You feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
3.) You want to be kind, but you can’t muster the energy.
4.) You’re struggling with decisions and worried about letting others down.
If you feel this way, don’t beat yourself up. So often those feelings are cues that you need some refueling. Even Jesus left the crowds to get time for himself.
If you’re in need of refueling, here are some things to consider:
1.) Plan a day off and get out of your house. You might locate a church or prayer center nearby or check with a friend or family member to see if they’ll be traveling and could loan you their house.
2.) Take a walk with yourself. Turn off your phone and spend some time noticing your thoughts and feelings. Ask God to touch your heart with his love where you need it the most.
3.) Ask a friend, counselor, or pastor to just listen. It’s amazing what happens when our hardest thoughts and feelings are witnessed by a loving “other”. (And guess what? Those loving others are probably getting care for themselves, too.)
Self-care isn’t selfish—it’s a critical part of your emotional and spiritual health.
It’s about filling yourself up with all the good things you hope to give others.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” – Mark 6:31-32 NIV
For more on how to care for yourself, check out my webinar: 5 steps to calm any overwhelming emotion.