Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (I Corinthians 3:16, ESV)

It’s January—that month when gym memberships rise as many resolve to become lean and healthy. It’s also the month churches focus on getting our spiritual life on target for the new year with special prayer and fasting. Sometimes we even make it through January before old habits start creeping back into our lives. Our intentions are good, but our busyness and hectic lifestyles soon undo those good intentions.

Do you ever feel guilty when you take time for yourself? Or perhaps I should ask if you take time for yourself. By nature, women are nurturers. That means it’s easy for us to give and give, constantly caring for others but depleting our own reserves to do so.  This lack of self-care leads to frustration, fatigue, and burnout. We may think self-care is self-indulgent and “not spiritual.” Actually, self-care and soul-care complement each other. We need both.

Jesus modeled both soul-care and self-care to us. Because He was fully human as well as fully divine, He understands the stress we feel when so many demands are made upon our time. Often, Jesus slipped away from everyone in the early-morning or late-night hours to pray (Luke 5:16 and 6:45-46). He also knew how essential it was to care for the body’s physical needs. We see this from His words in Mark 6:31.

“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat” (ESV).

If we wish to restore balance to our life, then we must intentionally make time to strengthen the spiritual and the physical. To do this, we may need to set boundaries and learn how to effectively use that magic two-letter word: no. We can be kind and respectful while still making our answer clear. (“I’m sorry, but I’m unable to do this. Thank you for thinking of me.”) If necessary, we can give a short explanation—or realize that no is a complete sentence. Just add a sweet smile at the end.

You may be thinking, “How can I take time for myself when I can barely keep up with my schedule now?” It is not wrong, or selfish, to take some me-time. Mark it on your calendar as you would any other important appointment—because you are important. Then decide on something you really enjoy but seldom take time to do. It may be as simple as drinking coffee and reading a daily devotional or the Bible on the patio. Or, go to lunch with a friend, walk the dog in a nearby park, read a book, write in your journal, take a nap, take a class. You know better than anyone which things refresh you and bring you joy.

Mark 12:31 admonishes, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The nurturer in us reads the first half of the verse but often forgets we must also love ourselves. We must look out for our needs just as diligently as we care for the needs of our family and friends. Find the balance. As Jesus said, “Come away . . . rest a while.”

Remember, we cannot effectively care for others if we do not care for ourselves first.

Lord, please help me find balance in life, neither neglecting the needs of others nor neglecting my own needs. Help me to say yes to things You wish me to do and no to things that would distract me from what is important in my life. Most of all, help me to remember that You are my resting place and the source of my joy.

Author

Mary enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. Although directionally challenged, she would rather take the back roads with their discoveries than the boredom of the interstate.

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