Real talk: there have been many times in my life when I have flat-out run on empty. There was a season where things were particularly rough. I put myself on the back burner of my own life and that burner was scalding hot, boiling until everything evaporated and all that was left was an empty shell of the vibrant woman I used to be. Can anyone else relate?
One afternoon when I was honestly at the end of my rope, I was praying and had a realization that shifted everything. In Mark 12:31, Jesus asks us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Chances are you've probably heard those words a million times, so please don't skim over them out of familiarity. Stop, sit with his words, and let them roll over you because they are truly a life changer. They tell us this:
The standard to which we are supposed to love others is the way we love ourselves.
There are two reasons why his words can change your life if you let them:
1. His words tell us if we are serious about loving others, we need to get serious about loving ourselves. I'll talk more about this truth later this week.
2. For most of us, taking care of others comes pretty easily, but it's the taking care of ourself part that brings up feelings of guilt or selfishness. When I realized Jesus asks us to care for and love ourselves in the same manner that we love others, I was set free from a those feelings. I began to realize the necessity of self-care. And I'm talking real self-care here, not mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or numbing out in front of reruns we have seen ten times before. Real self-care may include writing in a journal, soaking in the bath, sorting through emotions that are draining us, sipping hot tea, picking up a paintbrush, or taking a leisurely walk to marvel in the splendor of the autumn leaves. Real self-care is finding that thing that fills you up and then doing it.
Self-care isn’t selfish. When we run on empty, we serve from obligation instead of love. But when we are filled, we are able to love generously and authentically. I think this is exactly why Jesus tells us the standard for loving others is the way we love ourselves. He doesn’t want us to serve out of duty or run on empty. Instead, he wants us to live a life of genuine love and to care for others from that filled-up space. This is how we can begin living a life filled with grace and peace.
So now that you know one reason why self-care is a necessity, I’m going to hold you to it: what is one thing you will do to take care of yourself this week? Share in the comments below or email me!