If you follow me on social media, you know I took myself on a Solo Self Care Date to a massage parlor in Graham. It had been a while, and I didn’t realize how much I needed it until the session was complete. When was the last time that you’ve taken yourself on a Self-Care Date? Adulthood and its many demands easily invite the opportunity to forget about your needs. Rest and taking care of our bodies (temples) are vital to living an overall healthy, fulfilling life. The feeling of relaxation and being spoiled, loved on, pampered is an incredible feeling. This is something that you deserve. I remember before I started my wellness journey, being a young mother and wanting to be present for everyone was what I called my self-care. I’m a person who shows her love and care for others through acts of service. That’s my love language.
However, I eventually discovered that it left me burned out because I wasn’t properly caring for myself. People took advantage of me in friendships and relationships. It wasn’t until I truly began to show myself I loved myself that I realized that the biggest reason I didn’t put myself higher on my to-do list or priority list. I had this little negative voice saying to me, “You are strong, strong people don’t need breaks” “You’re a mother; if I take a break or time to myself, then I’m wasting time. And that’s time I could be doing so many things, including spending time with my child.” That voice would also say, “Your life doesn’t look the way you imagined; therefore, you don’t deserve to take a break or to do this for yourself. Are you crazy? You have this child and all of these responsibilities. You’re selfish even to think that you can do this or that for yourself.”
I kept all these things inside and kept pushing for better and burning myself up at all ends. And then, I had a breakdown and submitted to therapy. It was timely! When I had my breakdown, I was angry with God. I felt as though He didn’t love me because I was struggling so much mentally, financially, spiritually. I expected God to swoop in like the prince from a Disney movie and save me. That the Father would never just let me have a nervous breakdown, but He did because God will allow us to go through the valley so he can guide us to the mountaintop. God wanted me to recalibrate and have a more intentional relationship with Him. I had to surrender myself to God fully and surrender myself to the help he was sending me. God asked me the same question repeatedly for a year. He asked, “When will you give more to me? You’ve given yourself, your service, your time, and attention to so many other people and things, but I want you to give me what you gave them. I will show you better.” During that year, God showed me a few things that I will share with you.
#1: That all the time, I was giving to everyone else that not only did I need it for my own sanity, but I was worthy of the same love and attention I give to others. God showed me that there is clarity and healing in moments of rest. I was able to explore and actually enjoy life when I put myself higher on my priority list. He reminded me that after God created this earth that on the seventh day even, He rested. Mark 4:35-40 tells the story of Jesus and his disciples on the boat being tormented by the winds and the sea, all while Jesus was resting. Jesus had a huge to-do list; however, even Jesus took time to rest. God loves us unconditionally. He knew us before we even formed. He gave us the word so we could know how to live. So, if God rested and Jesus rested, why do we guilt-trip ourselves for resting? God gave us this life, and yes, we have work to do, but we are worthy of resting, worthy of creating boundaries, worthy of standing firm in respecting ourselves. My breakdown was God saying, enough! You need to rest and since you’re hardheaded, I’m going to make you rest. There were some things He wanted me to learn, but I had to rest to learn them. I learned that loving myself manifests in many ways, one of which was boundaries. Once I put up certain boundaries and started giving myself the time and attention I deserved. I started losing people in my life. Friendships and relationships that were based on me being there for them without much reciprocation ended. Looking back now, that was a blessing. Peace comes to our lives when we give ourselves the proper attention. I learned how to enjoy the little quiet moments to come into a better relationship with myself and God fully.
#2: I learned that self-care is an act of service to myself that shows that I love myself. The word says, “Love THYSELF, as you love thy neighbor,” and 1 Corinthians 13: 3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but don’t have love, I gain nothing.” I'm no theologian. In my opinion, this tells us that to properly love anyone else, we must first love ourselves and express the importance of loving ourselves and showing ourselves the love, we deserve. And everyone, including each of us, are deserving of love. This is by no means a selfish act. It inspires others to do the same thing for themselves and that it is possible. We are all living breathing examples for each of us to learn from. Question, the things you do to express your love to others, do you do those same things for yourself? I know sometimes we may use time or money as a reason not to do something for ourselves. Just as God is intentional with our lives and His plan, we must be intentional about making time to care for ourselves. I wake up early so I can spend the beginning of my day with myself. During this time, I pray, read, write, sometimes listen to music, run a hot bath with Epsom salt, and light some candles. Other times, I will use either my morning or evenings after my daughter is settled down to work on my finances or write down my goals for the future along with what it may take to achieve those goals. The only thing I paid for in that scenario was the Epsom salt and the candles. So that’s $4 plus tax from Dollar Tree.
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t even have to go anywhere special. You can go to the park, journal, dance around the house, or sit outside. You can work out; whatever it is that you enjoy doing. That is your self-care! You can create a long list of things to plan for yourself. Ultimately, when we show ourselves love we teach our children that it’s ok to show love to themselves, and it also teaches the people around how we want to be loved/treated.
#3: He reminded me that although no weapon formed against me shall prosper, my negative thoughts were the weapon during my lowest points. They were what was holding me in bondage. He reminded me that “Faith without works is dead,” and let me tell you, therapy was the hardest thing I ever did. However, through that rigorous process, I learned more about how my thoughts were affecting my life. I learned more about myself in 9 months than I knew before therapy. It taught me how to shift my perspective to live the life He designed for me. What thoughts do you have about yourself or your life that you don’t tell anyone? I challenge you to call those negative thoughts out and tell them they are liars! They have no place in your life and will not rule you. Always remember, God loves us unconditionally. Are the things that you say to yourself something you would say to someone you love? The answer is usually “No.” How many times have we looked at someone and told them or even said to ourselves, they need to rest, or they need a break? So, if God says to love ourselves as we love our neighbor, then teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13 how to love by saying, “Love is patient, love is kind." The same way we extend love to others, give positive words of encouragement, and extend grace, we absolutely must do the same things for ourselves. We will have our good and bad days, and it’s in those moments that we must affirm ourselves. I love the Songs of Solomon and the way Solomon speaks to his beloved. It reminds me that we should speak to ourselves in that same loving and gentle way.
Let this moment be the beginning of an incredible and comforting practice for yourself. Show love to yourself, give yourself grace, spoil yourself when you can. If our cups are empty due to not giving ourselves the peace to rest or not feeling loved from ourselves, how can we truly give to the others in our lives or goals we want to achieve. Look at self-care as a practice that you do to benefit every person and project you touch because running ourselves ragged only causes a breakdown. To be the best we can be, we must allow ourselves the time and intention to care for ourselves. Self-care is both external self-care and internal self-care. I pray that you continue to pamper yourselves. God loves us totally and completely, both internally and externally. Being an adult is hard; at any age can be challenging. It only seems complicated when we do not have the energy to keep moving forward. Let's always remember us on our to-do lists. Schedule a date for yourself or even just an hour early in the morning to love yourself to learn about the person you are becoming. When you know who you are and remember whose you are, you will not accept less from others. And more importantly, you will not accept less from yourself. I promise you; it makes all the difference.