(This is an edited transcript of “The Spiritual Side of Self-Care,” Episode 6 of The Carpool Line Podcast. This podcast from Family Christian gives moms a few minutes to connect with God so they can better connect with their families. Here’s how to listen.)
For moms, self-care used to be an idea reserved almost exclusively for Mother’s Day. On that day once a year, moms would be treated to breakfast in bed, a basket of lotions and bubble bath and fuzzy socks, flowers, and a full day of rest. Nowadays, the idea of self-care is more mainstream and not relegated to one specific day.
We are almost constantly reminded to take care of our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health. That’s all part of self-care. We see these reminders on social media, in places we shop, and on shows we watch or listen to.
As moms, the idea of self-care probably sounds pretty good on any given day. BUT it’s not something we are actually good at on any given day if we’re honest with each other. Many of us struggle with taking time to take care of ourselves. So, today we are going to look at a promise Jesus made to His disciples at the Last Supper and what that has to do with our own self-care rituals today.
Let me start by clarifying the difference between God’s version of rest and self-care Although they CAN be related, sleep and rest are not the same thing.
Sleep is biological. Rest is spiritual.
After 3-4 days of no sleep, we start to hallucinate. Sleep is not something we choose because eventually our bodies will force us to sleep. If you’ve had a newborn in your home or a sick toddler or preschooler, you’ve definitely experienced this! Yet, rest…turning to God, trusting Him, and abiding in Him is a choice we make and a gift that He offers us. It’s not something He forces on us.
God is always and has always been leading us towards rest. It’s been that way from the beginning. Starting with God’s own example of resting on the 7th day. And self-care can be a part of the spiritual practice of resting in the Lord when we invite the Holy Spirit into our self-care rituals. When we create space for the Holy Spirit who lives within us to care for us, we can recognize that sometimes it’s God’s hands caring for us not our own. He is the one tending to our wounds. He is the one calming our minds, not that lavender bath balm or scented candle or that extra mile you are running on the treadmill. In those moments, our self care rituals can turn into a holy moment.
So what does all that have to do with the Last Supper and a promise Jesus made to His disciples? And why does it matter to you as a mom?
Jesus’ promise at the Last Supper
At the last supper, Jesus was trying to prepare His disciples for when He would no longer be physically with them. He offers them comfort by promising them this. This is what He says in John 14:16-18: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Did you catch that? Jesus says: I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. Hold that thought.
Not left as orphans
Last summer I had outpatient surgery to remove cancer from my arm. I thought it would be so minor that I didn’t even tell people beyond my family. It was not minor. It was more extensive than I anticipated and I had spent zero time mentally preparing for taking care of myself afterwards. And guys, I am NOT a wound care person. You need prayer? DM me through Family Christian. A listening and empathetic ear? I’m your girl. Wise biblical advice with some added puns and humor to lighten the mood? Yep. I can handle that.
Wound care? Yeah. I am not that person. But there I was driving back home thinking about it. Thinking about what I had to do for the next two weeks twice a day. Then I had a moment of clarity: I will just call my mom. She’s a nurse and she will know what to do. Instant relief and comfort overcame me. As a mom yourself, you know you would drop anything to go take care of your child no matter how old they are. So when I thought about calling my mom to come take care of me even in my 40s, I felt completely at peace knowing that she would come take care of me.
And then I just as quickly remembered. I couldn’t call my mom. She died 25 years ago. I knew that she was gone but my spirit and mind needed her care. So I experienced what my sister calls a “timeless moment” when just for a second I forgot that my world doesn’t include my mother in it. She was not going to come take care of me. I was on my own.
At the last supper, Jesus was preparing His disciples for a time when he wouldn’t be in their world either. A time when He wouldn’t be there to take care of them. A time when they would need Him but He would be gone. A time when they would turn to Him for guidance and help and He wouldn’t be there.
But Jesus promised them: I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.
Jesus asked the Father to send His disciples the Holy Spirit. That’s who He was talking about. The Advocate. The Counselor. The Comforter. And He sends the Holy Spirit to us still today. He does not leave us as orphans either. He comes to us. He comes to you.
He certainly came to me. When the time came to take care of my wound for the first time, I was scared. I was physically shaking. I didn’t think I could do it. My husband offered to help but I did not want him to touch my arm. So I invited God into the process. Truthfully, I begged Him. I shuffled my playlist of restful worship music. I got out all of the medical stuff needed and I prayed something like this: God I hate this. I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I wish my mom was here to take care of me instead. Over and over again…while I went step by step in the process of caring for myself.
And at some point, He came to me. At some point, the hands tending to my wounds were no longer my own. Jesus did not leave me as an orphan. I felt the very presence of the Lord. There He was in my bathroom on a Wednesday night taking care of me. And I felt complete peace and rest. It was a holy moment.
And, He will come to you, too. He will tend to your wounds. The ones you don’t want to address. The ones you think you can ignore. The ones you wish someone else would fix. He will come to you. God promises us that when we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him. (See Jeremiah 29:13.)
In those moments when you invite Him into your times of self-care, when you rest in Him and trust Him to tend to your needs (your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional needs), you can experience the fullness and tenderness of His care. You can rest in peace knowing that Jesus had this plan for you all along: I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.
This week I invite you to spend a few moments reflecting on the wound you carry with you that you need the Holy Spirit to tend. Write it down. Meditate on it. Offer it to Him. Invite Him into the process of your self-care. Choose to trust Him to show up and take care of you when You invite Him into the hurting and step into the holiness of rest during your times of self-care.
Let me pray for you:
Jesus, thank You for not leaving us as orphans. Thank you for asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit to live within us, to comfort us, to advocate for us, to help us grow to be more like you. We don’t want to do any of this on our own, even our moments of self-care. We ask that you soften our hearts and break down our pride or shame or any other barriers we’ve built up and reveal the wound we carry around with us that we need the Holy Spirit to tend to right now. Amen.
(This is an edited transcript of “The Spiritual Side of Self-Care,” Episode 6 of The Carpool Line Podcast. This podcast from Family Christian gives moms a few minutes to connect with God so they can better connect with their families. Here’s how to listen.