my thesis is that we cannot truly love others [& thereby obey Jesus' second greatest command, matthew 22:37-40] until we learn to love ourselves.
part of loving myself is taking care of myself. or, taking it even another step back, believing that taking care of myself is important. women are notorious for not taking care of themselves for one reason or another. some say it's because they don't have time. they have to take care of so many other things & people. some have a distorted view of self-care. eating what they like is taking care of themselves. some are distracted by other interests. some feel "so far gone" they don't see the point anymore. some take it for granted. some think self-care is an unnecessary luxury, selfish in nature.
so, perhaps it would be good to start with a common definition of self-care. what i mean is keeping oneself in good working condition, like a car. my car isn't in perfect condition, & she has over 100,000 miles on her. she's got a few dings, a crack on the back bumper, & i like to use the floorboards as my trash can. one of the doors doesn't open up as easily as the others. the old wipers scratched an arc in the windshield. it doesn't have all the perks, & its gas mileage is only marginally decent. but i love my car. it's fun & comfortable to drive. it can haul tons of stuff & hold lots of people. it has lots of cup holders [which is a big deal to me]. it has a cd player & radio that work. the heat & air conditioning are insanely effective & fast. it's safe & reliable, & it's kinda sporty looking.
[my car back when she was new to us]
i'm not worried about the little dings, but i do touch up the paint when it gets scratched so it doesn't rust. i don't keep it perfectly clean all the time, but periodically, we like to wash it & vacuum it out. [and by we, i mean shaun.] we make sure to take it in for oil changes & tire rotations on time. and for her 100,000 milestone, i had her professionally detailed. not something we splurge on much [or ever], but i want this car to last, & we use it & use it hard. so, in gratitude for its reliable service so far & in hopes for continued reliability for many miles & years to come, i pampered my car a little. i plan to do it again when she turns 150,000 miles because i want to keep her until at least 250,000 miles. she's a good car, & if i want to keep her around, i have to keep her in good working condition.
the same is true of ourselves, body, mind, & spirit. if we want to stick around for very long & be of much use to others, we have to keep ourselves in good working condition. i may have a few blemishes & a few extra pounds hanging on. a few of my parts may have started working less efficiently with time. but i'm fun to be around, & i work hard. i take on lots of stuff & help lots of people. i have some awesome attributes that are unique to me. and i'm still pretty hip for a 31-year-old! i can't get worked up about every little imperfection or extra pound, but i do need to keep myself healthy. if i have too many extra pounds that keep me experiencing life & doing work that i've been called to because i don't have enough energy, it's time to take me in for service. and by service, i mean to the gym. even when i'm in top running order, i need to have regular check-ups & maintenance to keep me in good condition. i don't have to have my nails perfectly manicured, my hair perfectly styled, my clothes perfectly posh, my makeup perfectly radiant every single day. [thank goodness!] but i should keep my nails clean, my hair brushed, my clothes well-fitted, my makeup done when appropriate. and sometimes, when i hit a big milestone, i may need a little extra care! there's nothing wrong with getting your nails done, but that's not critical to self-care. still, it's nice once in a while to pamper yourself because it helps you keep going in top condition.
self-care is important to God. >> it's one way we worship Him, by caring for His temples. we are collectively, as the church, His temple. don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple & that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? ... for God's temple is sacred, & you together are that temple (1 corinthians 3:16-17). and we are individually each little temples for God Himself to dwell within. do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 corinthians 6:19). God set aside an entire tribe of israel to care for His tabernacle & temple. caring for God's dwelling place is an important act of worship toward Him, even today.
self-care is important to our loved ones. >> to serve others, we must have energy, stamina, & longevity. we receive these first & foremost from God above. He blesses us with every breath & every minute of our lives. He strengthens us when we are weak. He heals us when we are sick. the Lord gives & the Lord takes away (Job 1:21). but we too play a part in keeping ourselves well. we choose what we eat, whether to worry, whether to go obey God, whether to exercise, whether to pray, how much we sleep, how we spend our free time... these choices affect how often we get sick, how we feel each day, our stress levels, what we are able to do physically, mentally, & emotionally. these choices affect every person we come into contact with in some way or another, most especially our families.
our God & our loved ones deserve our very best. to give it to them, we must diligently take care of bodies, minds, & souls in appropriate ways.
may God teach us how to love ourselves so that we can more fully love Him & others.