Let’s talk about self care strategies vs soul care strategies today!
Self care is one off the most common uttered phrases in millennial motherhood.
Our culture is going a mile a minute and due to the explosion of social media we are comparing ourselves and our lives to many other moms.
It’s not that comparison is a new thing. But the magnitude of who we compare ourselves to, has massively expanded.
Balance has always been something that every woman seems to strive for. And whether we are using the analogy of spinning plates or glass balls, something always seems to drop.
I don’t think true balance will ever exist perfectly every day. But I do think we can be strategic and intentional about shifting top priority plates or balls and temporarily allowing others to sit out. Instead of, trying to accomplish so much that all our plates or balls end up shattering, leaving us crying out for some serious self care.
I think when we are intentional about soul care the need for total self care doesn’t get so desperate. Don’t get me wrong your physical body is a big part of a healthy self care routine, but when we are neglecting soul care it doesn’t matter how much physical self care we do, we will always be striving for more.
That’s because God made us that way, with a healthy desire for more because He wants more for us. He put the desire for the eternal kingdom in our hearts.
So what do I mean when I say soul care?
The greek word for soul is psyche which is where the term psychology comes from. Our mind and emotions is the best way to break down what our soul is. When we are practicing good soul care, we are nurturing our minds and understanding our emotions. When our souls are healthy we are able to function at a higher capacity, live in community and have better relationships with others because we have better relationships with ourselves.
If you have ever done any sort of personal development work, losing weight, instilling positive habits etc I am sure you have heard it all starts with your mindset.
God gifted us with these incredibly complex minds. And he granted us free will. He is not a dictating, controlling God, who says things need to be one way only.
He loves us and wants us to experience the freedom that can only be found in His grace because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We are not of the law but in a new covenant. The Lord gives us guidelines in the Bible and uses our life experiences to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus.
So yes, in any area of growth, self improvement and self care it does start with the mind.
And when our minds have a strong filter through the lense of the Lord we can live a life of purpose and intention that is honoring to God.
When I think of self care, it is all encompassing of our mind body and Spirit. I think we automatically go to the body though. Are we resting, exercising, eating well? Doing things that fill our buckets? A night away from the kids. A fresh manicure or pedicure. More tangible things. I think we neglect the soul part of it a lot which can turn into just putting bandaids on things. Soul Care is the deepest part of self care.
There is also an area of care called spirit care, as we as humans are made up of mind, body and spirit.
As a Christian I believe, Spirit Care comes to having a relationship with the Lord – This is the most important form of self care – meaning we are connected to His Spirit and we are allowing the Spirit to work in our lives. We are living in obedience and not turning from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is filling us.
I cannot give you advice to have Spirit care other than to lean and press in and ask for God’s filling of the Spirit but I do have some tangible advice for Soul care.
So first let’s discuss some positive soul care strategies as Christian mothers.
- Mama, read your Bible. I’ve said and you’ve heard it before but please take it to heart. How can we pour out from an empty cup?
How can we have grace for others, teach our kids well and feel empowered by the Holy Spirit when we are neglecting our most important relationship? Our relationship with God?
Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
I recently saw a picture meme on facebook and it had such a great visualization, it has really stuck with me.
Jesus was sitting at a table at a restaurant waiting for us to connect before we start our day. It was done in a comic strip style and the next picture depicted Jesus being asked by the waiter if He was ready to order and Jesus is saying “no I’m waiting on someone first” and then the next one Jesus is still sitting there alone thinking “OK she must have been too busy this morning, I’m sure she will meet me for lunch.” Sure enough He isn’t met for lunch and then next picture depicts him saying “OK for sure she will come at the end of her day.” The final few pictures show us finally showing up, laying out all our problems, skimming over what is really important to God like loving our neighbour live ourselves, giving sacrificially, caring for the poor, needy, orphaned and widowed etc. and then rushing out of the restaurant, perhaps to clean the kitchen or binge watch Netflix.
And although I believe God has grace for the busy season of motherhood we are in. I also believe he still expects our best in our relationship with Him.
Are we giving God our scraps? Or are we intentionally pursuing a mutual relationship?
The picture meme ends with the waiter saying to Jesus “same time tomorrow” and He says “yep!”
God is always there to hear us. He wants us to relentlessly pursue Him as He relentlessly pursues us!
At the beginning of this year I made the decision to start my day with the Lord. Instead of trying to fit in my quiet time at some point in the day I was convicted to make it my top priority. Of course I am not perfect and my track record isn’t 100% in this area but I can tell you that 100% of the time my days are 100% better when I start the day with Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
We need God to equip as before we venture out into the crazy day only motherhood can bring. Before spilled milk and dirty diapers. And the million other things you do or those tiny people all day long!
- Meditation. Be still and know He is Lord. I love doing Christian meditation and I find it a lot harder to carve out this time then reading and studying the Bible or praying. But it is in meditation where I can hear the still small voice of God guiding me and directing me in life. As many women can attest, meditation is hard because our minds- those magnificent minds of ours never stop. But when we never slow down and stop we miss so much off what God is trying to tell us. So whether you can do it for one minute or 10 minutes or hey even an hour or more, try to make it a priority.
If you have a trouble just being still with your own thoughts try a guided meditation. I like the ones by Abide.
Psalm 62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
- Regular Assessing and checking in on your life. Growth cannot happen if is not measured. I really like weekly, monthly and yearly check ins as a way to track how I am doing in my life. Am I giving God priority? Are there any areas of my life that are lacking. What can I improve? How can I be the best steward of the life God has blessed me with. I find regular journaling is incredibly helpful for this. I love to write.
Colossians 1:9-10 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
- Community – I am speaking from experience here. We know we were made to live in community but our culture has pushed things so far towards self sufficiency that we can sometimes see asking for help and needing others as a weakness. We need to lean into our community. When we depend on self sufficiency we are downplaying God’s role in our lives. Lean into others, press into others and let others do the same or you. We all feel connection in vulnerability. When we know many of our struggles are not unique to us we can live life together in order to honor God. God knew we would need other people! That’s why there are so many of us. We can sharpen each other, encourage each other, serve together, do life together.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
- Emotion Check ins – whether you do this daily, weekly or monthly it is a good practice to get into. Especially when you are working through anger, sadness, bitterness, or other more negative emotions. What triggered this emotion? An experience? Time of day? Interaction with someone? Emotional check ins help you to work through problems and reactions and help you to experience more positive emotions. Do you need to check out from a toxic relationship? Limit interactions with a certain person? Implement other strategies or routines so you are not angry and grumpy with your kids when they wake you up with their million questions? This also can lead to health issues. Hormonal imbalance or mental health issues that need to be addressed by a Doctor. What do we do when our emotions are controlling us and we are not able to see the fruits of the Spirit in our lives?
Proverbs 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
- A morning routine. I am slowly turning the pages in my life where I was “not a morning person” I have seen so much value by implementing a morning routine. This not only includes the time I carve out to read the Bible but other morning practices such as journaling, gratitude practice, goal setting and planning for the day/week, time to exercise, time to get some of my work done before the kids get up, giving me a headstart on the day. Using our self discipline to instill these habits that will only help and not hinder us in our motherhood.
1 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Prayer – ask God to help you with this. Ask him for a clear mind, for a slow reaction in emotions. Ask him to guide you and make sure your decisions are honoring to Him.
A strong prayer life is so vital.
Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
- Think minimalism – OK so this one has been imperative to me being able to focus on all these other areas. About 18 months ago I started off on a minimalism journey. And it has changed my life. It is crazy how easy it is in North American culture to get wrapped up in stuff.
We are surrounded by messages of consumerism – getting things to make us happy. And we don’t even see it. I can only see it now because I can look back at how I was. I was so overwhelmed and the state of my house led to many unnecessary negative emotions. Anger, frustration, yelling at my kids, resentful. All off these emotions and actions I struggled with on a regular basis because I simply had too much stuff. Minimalism has been life changing not only to keep my home clean and welcoming and my soul happy because I could actually sort through my home, and emotions with ease! It comes down to when you clear your physical clutter it is so much easier to sort through our mental clutter.
Maybe you don’t struggle with this but I think there are many moms who do. Bred by our social media culture.
It calls us to a life of simplicity in the Bible not the accumulation of stuff. I pray that you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal this to you if this is an area you struggle with. Are your purchases and how you use your money and your space honoring to God?
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
God has been telling us how to live since the beginning. His promises never fail. His wisdom reigns forever.
I hope after listening to this you will implement some of these soul care strategies in order to have better self care. Remember it is not just about your body and what feels restful although those things are important too. True change and growth starts with our minds and we need to constantly be working our minds through God’s lense, so we can fulfill our purpose as to why God has put us on this earth. We are all called to purpose, action and spreading God’s love. Let’s stop allowing the distractions of this world to distract us from the light.
Dear God, our heavenly father. Thank you for giving us life. Thank you for all of the blessings you have bestowed upon us. Thank you for friendship, fellowship, community and connections. Help us to today Lord to see the importance of filling our pitchers so we can generously pour into other’s cups. Help us to focus on what is truly important, growth in our spiritual walks. Help us take care of our souls so we can be better disciples and gospel messengers. Help us to be the best moms we can be to our kids. I ask forgiveness for all the times I have not been a Godly example to my kids and I thank you for your grace. Lord I need your help. Every lady listening today needs your help. We cannot live this life on earth well without you on our side. I ask that the Holy Spirit fills us and helps us to live our our lives in fearless faith and powerful purpose. I ask all these things in Jesus’ precious name. AMEN