When My Self Care Became Soul Care
I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with self improvement. If there’s a part of me I can make better, I want to know how. New book on improving household finances? I’m putting a hold on it at the library. Webinar about how to be a more mindful parent? You betcha! Conference to help women find more balance in their busy lives? I’m there. In fact, that is where I was this past weekend. It was a lovely gathering of faithful women from various backgrounds, many of whom I call friends. I was excited to spend this time recharging. I had just spent the past ten days being a solo parent to my two busy boys, so I was excited to have a few hours to focus on myself.
But something unexpected happened. After the conference, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that even though I spent this year pouring into myself through books, webinars and conferences to help me become a better mom, wife, writer, Christian (i.e. do all the things for your church), it all felt so futile. You see, after spending all this time learning new things and achieving more things, I still felt a little bit empty. I was going through the motions, but nothing was filling me up. So I did what I thought I needed: self care. I went on girl’s weekends, spent an afternoon to myself, got massages. But each time, I would come back feeling like it wasn’t enough. I still wasn’t fully charged. Even though in the moment I enjoyed it, when I came home, it was almost as if it had never happened. That is a sad state to be in my friends. But then it hit me, it’s not about anything I do, what I learn, or what is happening around me. It is about who is in me, and how that changes me from the inside out. As a Christian I know this, but this was truly the first time I felt this. I had been doing all the things and focusing on the external, when I was neglecting the internal: my God-given soul.
When you give your life to God, it doesn’t end there. In fact the hard work begins and we need to continually enrich our souls to live wholeheartedly. If everything in our life is picture perfect (successful career, beautiful house, amazing family) but our souls are undernourished, there is a real possibility you can go through life never knowing true joy, peace and contentment. But I can guarantee that you will chase after those things. On the flip side, when everything in your world has gone wrong, you can still have true joy, peace and contentment if all is well with your soul. There is a tendency to neglect the soul to focus on the practical things such as our career, finances, physical health, but our soul is all we will have left in the end. Our soul is all we will take with us into eternity.
So what does soul care mean? For me, it’s taking the time each day to establish habits that bring me closer to God. For the past few years, I’ve participated in bible studies, but my bible reading was based on the schedule of the class. I let others set the pace. When they had a break, I would also break. This year, I’m setting the pace. I am meeting God daily, even when I don’t think I have time to. Even if my list of things to do is sky high, spending those solitary moments with God everyday gives my soul nourishment. It’s my daily bread; my manna. Soul care allows me to live out the ordinary and the hard moments of my day with joy and sustenance. No amount of massages and self help books will ever give me that.
Will I stop reading self-help books, watching webinars and attending conferences, even Christian ones? No, I doubt it. Because there are some really great resources and servant leaders out there to help people become more thoughtful, loving and faithful people. However instead of seeking to find my worth through these things, I will begin with the mindset that I am already valued, loved and accepted by God. My validation comes from Him alone. I know this because all is well with my soul.