I struggle with self-care.
Don’t get me wrong; I can light a candle and take a long, hot shower with the best of them. Having lived with anxiety, I know all the tricks to temporarily melt away stress. What I’m talking about goes much deeper.
I struggle to treat what God has given me with love and care. Too often, I have either ignored or punished the gift that is my physical vessel. Instead of making sure it has what it needs to survive, I scrutinize it to death. I take my emotional pain out on it. I question every bump and curve, taking it upon myself to decide whether or not it is supposed to be there. If the number on the scale doesn’t match the perfect number in my head, food becomes a source of guilt rather than nutrition.
But what if I told you that our responsibility to our bodies is not to mercilessly whip them into shape, nor to indulge in every destructive craving and ignore the consequences? The Bible is clear that our bodies are temples, vessels for the Lord to do his work. We are also not our own, but were bought with a price. So how do we treat our bodies as a temple and a gift?
The Gift of Your Body
How often do you actually think about your body? My problem is that I don’t think about it, or when I do, it’s in the form of criticism. But what if we changed the narrative about our bodies? The truth of scripture is key to doing so. So here’s the truth: your body is an incredible gift. Think about it; God designed your physical body to do all the things it needs to do to keep you alive automatically. You don’t have to tell your heart to beat or your lungs to breathe. As a kid, you didn’t have to prepare to grow taller and stronger. Your food goes down and nutrients are absorbed without you even noticing.
What would it be like to believe “my body is a gift from my good Father,” rather than “my body needs work?” When we receive a gift from those we love, we take care of it. Stop tearing down one of God’s first gifts to you.
As Christians, we sometimes perceive ‘self-care’ as an excuse to selfishly over-indulge. It can certainly be used that way. But we also can’t be poor stewards of the vessel we have been given. We can’t pour out of an empty cup.
Anything that is expected to last and thrive needs care; so do our bodies. Realizing our need for that care brings us closer to the Savior. We are not God; we are not able to do all things with no interruption or rest. God-honoring self-care is restorative and humbling.
Give it Back
We are called to constantly give. But what if your body has less– less strength, less energy, less conventional “beauty”– to give?
Remember the parable of the talents? The master gave to each of his employees a number of talents (currency), with the expectation that they would multiply what they have been given. If you recall, the servant he rebuked was the one who buried his talents in the ground. Nowhere in the story does it place those given more talents above those given fewer. It’s okay to be the person with less to give, as long as you give what you do have faithfully.
Most of us have complicated relationships with our bodies (myself most definitely included). But God has bigger plans for them than to fit the mold society has created. Our arms were made not just to be thin or muscular, but to embrace the broken. Our feet are beautiful because they were made to bring good news. Our eyes were made see Jesus in the stranger and our lips to speak the truth in love. Our bodies are gifts from God to do his work– treat yours like one.
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