Welcome to week six of our winter-long Healthy, Beautiful You series!
Here at the blog, we’ve been exploring self-care for Christian women. If you’d like to visit the other posts in the series, please check out my self-care tag right here.
A few weeks ago, I read an article on the topic of women’s self-care and one of the aspects the author mentioned was spiritual self-care.
So I’ve been pondering this dimension of our humanity- that is, the spiritual spaces of who we are as women.
And, yes, I had to agree-
Spiritual self-care is deeply important.
We are created in the image of God- body, mind, and soul.
We are spiritual beings, and our hearts and souls need nurtured just as much as our minds and bodies need nurtured.
Although the term “spiritual self-care” is nowhere to be found in the Bible, our Heavenly Father has plenty to say about how we- His children- can flourish spiritually.
I thought of five ways Christian women can practice spiritual self-care habits.
(I’d love to hear your ideas too, so please leave a comment at the end of this post!)
The first two habits are really the foundation for the other three; everything else hinges on these two habits being part of our lives as believers.
Here are my five habits of spiritual self-care:
1. Read- and love- God’s Word
This is such an obvious habit of Christianity that you might have wanted to skip it just now.
But, honestly- how often do you read your Bible?
Christianity Today tells us that 80% of church-goers do not read their Bibles daily. (source)
A survey by Barna Research in 2018 found that only 14% of adults in American “engage with” their Bibles every day. (source)
This post is not a guilt-trip because I don’t believe God uses guilt to motivate us into relationship with Him.
But I do want you to be honest with yourself; how often you find yourself reaching for your Bible?
Not out of a sense of duty, or to cross it off your good-Christian-girl “to do” list.
Read your Bible so that you can
- know the truth that sets you free (John 8:31-32).
- let the Spirit of God discern your motives (Hebrews 4:12).
- find guidance for life (Psalm 199:105).
- encourage your heart and renew your mind (Romans 12:2).
- learn the ways of wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).
- find refuge in difficult times (Psalm 18:30).
- be filled with the knowledge of God (Romans 11:33).
May I confess something to you?
—–> In this busy season of my life, I don’t try to read the Bible through every year.
Right now, that would feel a lot like trying to eat a 32-ounce organic steak every day for lunch in order to make sure I’m getting enough protein.
Could I manage it.?
But my body will absorb a lot more nourishment if I take smaller meals throughout the day.
I feed my soul in much the same way I feed my body: intentionally, and often.
I prefer to read and re-read Scripture passages- sometimes books, sometimes chapters, sometimes verses- over and over, before moving on to another passage.
Often, I ponder a selection from the Bible for weeks on end- or even for months, or longer.
I do make it a habit to read my Bible every day.
But I’m not in a race with the calendar.
Over the years, I’ve learned to love God’s Word and anticipate what the Holy Spirit is going to speak to me.
The important thing is that I hit pause long enough to read, ponder, and listen.
2. Cultivate a Heart That Seeks God in Prayer
There’s a reason why reading the Bible and praying are known as spiritual disciplines:
That’s because our carnal hearts do not naturally desire God.
Even as believers, it’s easy to save the spiritual things for when we’re at church, and forget that we’re in a living relationship with a living God seven days a week- not just once or twice a week.
And it’s precisely because of this relationship that prayer should not become just another rote duty of being a Christian.
—–> Duty is born of discipline; devotion is birthed from the heart.
We cultivate a heart of prayer-
- as worship to our God (Hebrews 12:28-30).
- because we know that God hears us (I John 5:14).
- so that the eyes of our spiritual understanding would be opened (Ephesians 1:18).
- that we would be protected from evil (John 15:17).
- so we can resist temptation (Matthew 26:41).
- to intercede for others (Romans 8:26).
- for peace in the middle of anxiety and needs (Philippians 4:6-7).
- so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives (I Timothy 2:1-2).
- to confess and receive forgiveness of our sins (I John 1:9).
- because God is our loving Heavenly Father (Matthew 7:11).
Reading your Bible and cultivating a heart of prayer will set the foundation for the following three habits to take root in your life as a believer:
3. Understand Your Identity in Christ
I’m listing this as a spiritual self-care habit because I believe that unless we’re intentional about understanding our identity in Christ, we’ll believe lies about who we are.
Lies like these:
- I’m not good enough/I’ll never measure up.
- I don’t have any talents/skills.
- I’ve already blown it.
- If I were prettier or smarter, I’d feel okay.
- I’m not worthy of being loved.
As Christian women, we have to realize when we are being sold a bill of lies… and, most especially, when we are believing those lies.
Your personal identity sets the pace and the course for how you will live your life.
What do you believe makes you valuable?
Think about that for a minute.
Is it because you are attractive?
Because you make a good living, or because your husband does?
Maybe what kind of house or neighborhood you live in?
Your title or position within your career, social circle, or church community?
Do you attach your self-worth to the brand of clothing you wear, or the vehicle you drive?
Or maybe you find identity as a woman because of the way you’re raising your kids, or the areas in which they excel?
What makes you valuable?
It’s so easy for us as women to attach our self-worth to people, things, ideas and roles… anything that makes us feel safe or look good.
The honest truth is that our true identity- the very foundation for our lives and well-being- is found in nothing else than the person of Jesus Christ.
“For in Christ dwells all the fullness of God… and you are complete in Him.” Colossians 2:9
This is a journey I am still on as a woman.
But the more I discover about who I am in Christ, the less I depend on people, things, and roles to make me whole on the inside.
4. Grow in Your Knowledge of God
A few years ago, I hit a pretty hard place- emotionally and spiritually.
I did some honest soul-searching and- even more importantly- asked the Holy Spirit to show me what I was missing in my walk with Christ.
It was during this time that Jesus’ great invitation in Matthew chapter eleven radically changed my life:
Come unto Me all you that are weary and heavy ladened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”
The phrase that rattled my world was simply learn of Me.
I realized that although I have been a believer in Jesus ever since I was a little girl, I had never really delved deep into understanding His nature.
I knew much about Christ.
Loved Him, deeply.
But in too many areas, I believed what other people said about what God expected of me.
As a Christian woman, I was carrying a “yoke” that felt anything but “easy and light.”
That hard place marked the beginning of a love relationship in my heart with Christ that continues to grow more sweet every year.
Do I know everything I need to know about Jesus now?
Of course I don’t.
But I am growing in my knowledge of Him, not just keeping rules and fulfilling duties as a Christian.
If your relationship with God feels tiring and burdensome, ask Him to begin to show you who He really is.
It’s a personal journey, and your story will look different than mine.
But do take the journey!
5. Live in Relationship With Other Believers
If you had asked me a year ago, “Are you living in community with other Christians?” I would have said yes.
And I was, in a sense.
I’m a pastor’s wife, so I’m worshiping with our church family three times every week.
I lead our women’s ministry, so I’m constantly in contact with my sisters in Christ.
I have sweet friendships with other pastor’s wives, mentors, and friends who encourage me.
But the only part of me living in relationship was the good side of me.
The pastor’s wife who always shows up prepared and looking the part.
The leader who organizes, listens, and initiates.
The friend who doesn’t really like letting her guard down because, well, it’s risky.
God is using a very hard place in my life this season to show me what a mercy true community is.
What it feels like to be striped of all the “I wish I was…” and be loved for the “I really am…“
What friendship looks like when I’m on the receiving end, and I’m not at all looking the part.
When my mistakes feel evident, and yet people say you’re okay.
—–> When grace breaks my fall from perfection, then I truly know that I am living in community.
Not all groups of believers offer a safe haven for imperfect souls, and if you have found such- cherish them!
If you have not found such a community, seek to cultivate one right where you are at.
Then ask God to lead you to people who can live and love well with you.
Permission to be known and still loved is an earmark of a truly Christ-centered friendship, church, or community.
Putting down roots in such an emotional space is a very important part of your spiritual self-care as a woman.
What habits have you put in place in your life in order to flourish spiritually?
What would you add to my list?
Which one of these five do you sense a need to cultivate most?
How can I pray for you?
Drop me a comment below and let me know, or shoot me an email.
Here’s to living and loving well-