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Theology of Self-Care

Once again, I’m thankful to have Victoria Monet guest blogging for me. Victoria is from Georgetown, Texas. She loves her husband, son, dog, and impacting others’ everyday theology through creative writing and teaching. She writes poetry and topical articles on her blog “Theology Reflected.”

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Is self-care selfish or unspiritual? Some churches and Christian circles say “yes.” And while today’s popular self-care strategies may have a bent toward self-serving interests, a biblical perspective of self-care is holistic, worshipful, and others-centered.

Self-Care Involves All Aspects of Ourselves

God designed us as complex, whole persons (Ps. 139:13–16). We do not—like a computer or machine—consist of parts, but encompass spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and relational aspects in our intricate design. When we take care of ourselves, we can’t just target one aspect of ourselves. We need take a holistic approach to self-care.

After my husband and I married, I moved from Lubbock to Dallas. In Lubbock, I had an established community, church, and lifestyle. In Dallas, I had to start new friendships, adjust to a new church, and adapt to a new rhythm of life. The stress from this transition caused headaches, fatigue, sleeping problems, and anxiety. I struggled mentally to keep a proper perspective of my situation.

Well-meaning people told me I should trust God and depend on him (a truth I already knew), but I found it difficult to believe that truth. My anxiety caused me to momentarily forget about God’s faithfulness and control over my situation. In my stressed state, I reached out less and less to trusted friends when I needed them the most; and in some relationships, I overextended myself to care for the other person.

Moving to a new city didn’t just affect one aspect of me but all aspects of me. To fight the anxiety and stress in that season, I needed a holistic approach––just like when I fought (and still fight) depression.

When we take care of ourselves, we need to care for our whole selves because God created us as whole persons.

Self-Care is Worshipful

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Everything matters in the Christian life. When we sip our medium roast or munch on our one-hundred-calorie snack packs, we do it to the praise, honor, and worship of God. Everything we do carries purpose. We carry purpose. In self-care, we worship God through gratitude for and good stewardship of the life he gave us.

When we care for ourselves, we express gratitude to God. He gave us our ears, brains, smiles, tears, hearts, and lungs (Rom. 11:36). And how should we respond? “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14). We don’t treat our bodies as worthless and useless, but we treat ourselves with kindness as an act of gratitude to God.

We also give glory to God in our self-care through acting as good stewards of ourselves. The parable of the talents teaches us that the Lord, our master, wants us, his servants, to steward the resources he grants us (Matt. 25:14­–30). God gifted us with life, and he wants us to take care of our life with excellence.

By giving thanks and serving as good stewards, we bring glory to God. Our aim to bring glory to God distinguishes Christian self-care from secular self-care. We don’t take care of ourselves for self-serving purposes, but we do it to represent Christ well and serve others better.

Self-Care Benefits Others

We can love others by not only taking care of them but also taking care of ourselves. When I take care of myself, I can better serve my husband, son, friends, co-workers, and classmates.

Before my husband, Josh, and I married, he tended to take on a lot of opportunities with his business, church, school, and relationships. He grew accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle where he could take on a variety of responsibilities. When we married, his priorities changed and caused a lack of time for rest which resulted in frequent burnout.

His over-commitment began to affect me and our marriage, so he started to cut back on his involvement in work, ministry, and school. He began saying “no” more, found a mentor, spent time in self-reflection, rode his bike more often, ate healthier, and slept more.

As his wife, I don’t want to see him barely crawl out of each season of life. I want to see him thrive and enjoy life. When he practices self-care, he laughs more and worries less, and it gives me joy to see him doing well. Self-care grows his ability to delight in God, maintain healthy relationships, and enjoy life.

Whether married or single, we all have people who care about our well-being—family, friends, kids, grandkids, co-workers, peers, teachers, small-group leaders, pastors, and mentors. We ought to take care of ourselves to bless these people. Sometimes, we may feel alone and that no one cares if we are doing well or not, but the truth is we have far more people cheering us on than we think. If, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we take care of ourselves and take care of each other, the whole body of Christ thrives.

Taking care of our whole selves—mind, body, and spirit—holds a vital place in a healthy, godly life. It grows our capacity to delight in God and serve others. As Christians, we care for ourselves not to feel good and look good. We care for ourselves for the glory of God and benefit of others.

Joy Dahl

Joy Dahl is a Jesus girl transformed by God’s grace. Through many trials she has learned to rise above the depths of real life by holding fast to truth and hope. Now Joy passionately shares the journey of life with others and encourages them through the teaching of God’s Word. Joy cherishes the sisterhood of believers. She’s a disciple-making disciple, helping believers embrace their calling as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. Much of Joy’s career has focused on startup and high-growth companies in Washington, D.C. and New York, and for 10 years she provided Chief Financial Officer services through her consulting practice. In 2017, Joy earned two Masters degrees in Christian Education and Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently, she’s pursuing her Doctor of Ministry degree in Spiritual Formation at DTS. Her emphasis is the integration of work and faith. Joy and her husband, Gordon, now call Dallas home. Joy’s favorite things include: international travel, dark chocolate, horses, beach getaways, running, big dogs, and adventure!

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