The holy importance of minding one’s own body, heart and mind

In the context of faith communities, the idea of putting a spotlight on oneself and your individuals needs may, at first glance, seem opposed to the teachings of scripture. After all, in the Christian tradition, we are call to be a serving people, caring for our neighbors as we follow our God. We are not to be self-centered or self-serving and some have even been raised to always put the needs of others above their own needs. For some, the term self-care may even seem like we are putting too much focus on ourselves rather than God. While there are certainly times and places for selflessness and even self-sacrifice in this walk of life and faith, it is also important that we find a balance of caring for ourselves as we do this outward and upward work.

Self-care is a holy act. The importance of finding this balance of caring for self and others is seen when Jesus responds to a question regarding which commandment is the greatest. In Matthew 22, as he speaks of loving God in expansive and encompassing ways, he also lifts up a second one like it — “to love your neighbor as yourself.” In this commandment, Jesus simultaneously holds up the importance of caring for those around us and caring for ourselves. The more we care for ourselves, according to this guidance, increases how much we should be caring for others. In this, Jesus reminds us that self-care can lead to sharing even more goodness with the world around us.

More Keep the Faith: jesus-women-disciples/70203335007/” data-ylk=”slk:Jesus’ love for his mother showed his love and devotion to humanity;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>Jesus’ love for his mother showed his love and devotion to humanity

More Keep the Faith: For pastor, new fatherhood gives new insights into faith

In Luke 5, as Jesus’ ministry was growing and as people were coming from all around to him to seek wholeness in their lives, we are told in verse 16 that he would often slip away from the crowds to go to deserted places and pray. Even as the people around him were looking for so much from him, and even as he wanted to give it, Jesus still needed time for himself. He still needed to carve out space to tend to his spiritual wellness and to nurture that personal connection with God. He also needed to find rest so that he could continue the work before him.

Self-care takes on many different forms in our world today. How we each find rest and how we connect with the Divine likely looks different for many of us. How we show love to ourselves will vary from person-to-person. Self-care is tending to the physical, spiritual, and emotional. It is caring for the body, heart and mind. It is caring for the visible needs and the invisible ones as well.

This Sunday, the United Church of Christ, the denomination of which I serve, has declared May 21st of this year to be Mental Health Sunday. On this day, congregations, if they so choose, are invited to make space, to name, and to provide support around mental health challenges. At the church I serve, we will simply take a moment in our time of prayer to name that which is often invisible. Personally, I believe that acknowledging mental health struggles and being open with our own stories is important to end the stigma around it and to promote caring for our mental health just as much as we do our physical.

As we ponder the holiness of caring for ourselves and the gift of life we have been given, may we do all that we can to love ourselves so that we can love others even more. May we step away from the demands to find solace and solitude. May we make time to sing, to pray, to dance, and to commune with our God. And, as we do it, may we not be ashamed to share with others what we are doing and why we are doing it. It is important that we model a life of self-care. As people of Christian faith, it is modeling after the ways and teachings of Jesus. When we are open with our care for self, it makes room for others and may even give permission to some to do the same. As others then care for themselves because they see the ways we have been tending to our own needs, love has been shared. Just like that, we are right back to that command that is like the greatest — to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Rev. Josh Fitterling is the Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Worcester, a member congregation of the United Church of Christ, a denomination of extravagant welcome.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Keep the Faith: The holy act of caring for yourself

Related Posts