I’m fed up with women.
I love you all, I really do, but I’m mad at you. I’m mad at me. I’m mad at all of us because we keep doing this thing.
And it really ticks me off.
Not me, you say. I don’t neglect myself. Oh really? Well let me ask you something. When was the last time you booked a massage? Took a bubble bath? Bought the expensive vitamins?
How often do you hire a babysitter not just for date night but so you can meet a friend for coffee or attend a doctor’s appointment?
And who among us will scrape together every penny we own in order to buy the kids’ hockey equipment or pay for private school, but when it comes to purchasing something—anything—for ourselves, we call it indulgent and unnecessary?
Do you ever just sit and read a book?
Take a nap?
Treat yourself to lunch? I mean a real lunch, not the kids’ table scraps.
Sure sure sure, you’re going to tell me you don’t have money for all that. Fine. Totally get it. I’m on a budget, too.
But I’m not just talking about money. Or things. Or time, even.
I’m talking about your measure of your own self-worth.
Too often I hear women tell me they feel guilty for taking care of themselves. It’s as if we’ve become so intent on taking care of other people that we forget we are people, too. People created by a loving God. People within whom the Holy Spirit dwells. People who cannot possibly thrive on two hours of sleep and a spoonful of mac and cheese.
Why aren’t we worth the same investment of attention that we pay to everyone else?
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29–31).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you deserve a new dress or a day at the spa. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, so, heaven forbid we actually get what we deserve.
But Jesus came to free us from condemnation, right? And have you noticed—if you pay any attention to the gospels at all—Jesus very clearly models this whole idea of self-care? I mean he made his own well-being a seriously top priority. Over and over we read about how Jesus left the crowds to find a quiet place to pray. He knew he could only give to his people what he had first received from the Father.
He filled up in order to pour out.
And remember the prophet Elijah? During a super stressful time in his ministry, he tried to give up. Dude actually ran away to the wilderness and told God, “I have had enough, Lord. . . take my life!”
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. (1 Kings 19:5–9)
Did the angel give Elijah a lecture? Did he give him a pep talk? Did he order him to pray or recite Scripture or go back home and do his crummy job? No. He fed him. Let him sleep. Gave him a chance to restore his strength, which restored his courage. My pastor used to say, “Sometimes the holiest thing you can do is take a nap.”
God cares about our physical and mental well-being. Why? Because he made us mortal and he loves us. And because caring for ourselves enables us to do the work he gave us. To raise our children. To love our husbands. To throw another pound of chicken in the crock pot and carpool the kids to school.
What self-care means for you may be different from what it means for me or any other woman. One of us might need counseling while another needs dinner with a friend. I might be refreshed after a half-hour bike ride while you need a full day of shopping. I know women who can run a marathon on a 20-minute cat nap. Me? Give me a two-hour siesta and don’t make me run anywhere. Whatever is on your heart and within your means, what’s keeping you from grabbing it?
Don’t you think you’re worth it?
God says so.
So buy the dang dress already. Pop in that DVD. Take that yoga class, order that face cream, let your husband take the kids to Grandma’s while you curl up in a chair with popcorn and a book. Show him this post if you have to, so he starts to get the clue. Trade him an hour of you-time for an hour of him-time. Work together to make sure nobody gets burnt out.
I spent too many years denying myself these things. And it landed me in the ER (twice) for psychosomatic symptoms brought on by excessive stress. (See my book for more gory details on mom martyrdom and all the damage it can do.) So in a way, self-care is a preventive measure. Like a mammogram for your soul. You wouldn’t feel guilty about getting your mammogram, would you? And yet a Starbucks iced mocha is so much more fun. Call a friend and meet her for one tonight. Or next week. Whatever you can swing. Just stop telling yourself you don’t need it, or you’re not worth it.
Because that’s a lie.
And lies should tick you off.