I noticed an emphasis on self-care going around lately, so I wanted to share my thoughts and tips on the topic. Amidst travel, school, jobs, and ministry, I wanted to share how I keep anxiety at bay and find rest.
This message of rest came at just the right time (as messages from God usually do). My life has been hectic and there were a lot of things I had happening all at once. Even during my teenage years, I would have panic attacks and struggle with being anxious and afraid. While I’ve found some simple, practical answers to help subdue it–take a bubble bath, take deep breaths, stop negative thoughts, etc–there has only been one solution that has worked long-term: worship. Surrendering myself, my fears, my anxieties, at the feet of Jesus.
Last week, I spent four days in Louisiana (I may write another travel post on this later, so stay tuned). I was staying at someone else’s house, sleeping on their couch, and basically just didn’t have any time to myself, which is already hard as an introvert, but it also meant that I didn’t have any time to be myself by myself with God.
It was *just* four days, y’all. Four days without getting up and playing worship music, without dancing, without having my Spirit in a posture of worship. Four days that I did pray and read my devotional, and purposefully inclined my ear to hear what the Spirit was saying, but it was four days in which I did not set aside time to worship (to my defense, there were people there around [that weren’t necessarily Christians] from 4:30 am to 11:30 pm).
I had a LOT of things going on last week. I MEAN A LOT. I felt like I was sitting on one of those round things in the park as I child that my dad would spin around as fast as he could and I would hold onto the bars with everything in me so that the centripetal force wouldn’t sling me off in any direction. I felt like I had spiritual vertigo. I didn’t know what was up, what was down, I cried myself to sleep and had what surely has to go on record as the puffiest eyes ever the next morning.
Granted, I had very little sleep on that trip. Yet I know that’s not what the issue was for me. I was starving to worship. I couldn’t function, couldn’t feel right-side-up, couldn’t think or process things correctly, couldn’t find the right attitude, because I was so desperate to worship. I didn’t reflect Christ well, because I was not purposefully adoring Him. I was grumpy and unpleasant to be around and made a fool out of myself because I just couldn’t hold my tongue. I acted like a fool; I wasn’t calm; I wasn’t at rest in my spirit. I was not inhaling and exhaling the goodness of Yahweh. And the more I did, the more mad at myself I became, the more frustrated I was. The more I acted out of my flesh, the harder it was to hear what Holy Spirit was saying, because I was not conversing with Him.
As soon as I opened my Bible this morning, it flipped open to 2 Samuel 6:22a
, a verse that popped out to me last August:
“Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” (NLT)
“I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”
This verse is King David’s response to his wife Michal when she was getting on to him about worshipping with all his might, and “embarrassing himself” in doing so, in worshipping with such abandon.
The way I see it, we have two options: 1) We can abandon our spirit and worship our flesh, embarrassing those who walk by the spirit, or 2) we can abandon our flesh and worship in our spirit, and embarrass those who walk by their flesh.
We’re going to be humbled either way. We may as well pursue humility
, instead of waiting for it to inevitably catch up with us. I will hands-down take the option of dancing around in worship in my underwear over being in a bad mood.
Learning to rest
, to wait
, to be still and get to know God
, knowing that He will fight our battles for us. After that word was drilled in on repeat, the word of “be at rest while being in motion
” (and some other paradoxes
) came up. As I had been practicing rest
(taking a Sabbath
on Thursdays, learning to let anxiety go
and not worry about tomorrow
, learning to say “no” so that I could give my “best yes”, etc.), God said, “Now that you have practicing resting, let’s practice resting in motion.” This was as I was finishing focusing on resting for about 2 weeks, 2 weeks that I also did a 14-day yoga challenge
during. I know there are mixed thoughts on yoga in Christian circles and I’m not trying to get into that right now, but during those 14 days of doing yoga, I learned to manage my breath, to focus on my breath. To hold on when my muscles were stretching and quivering beyond their comfort zone. To relax in unusual poses. To push myself, to challenge myself, to do what I didn’t believe I could do. It made me more flexible after the 14 days, it made me stronger, and I was more focused and aware of my body and breath. Do you see the parallel? We must practice stretching ourselves spiritually. We must practice holding, staying in positions that we are not comfortable in, because they strengthen us. We must pay attention to our breath, the life-breath and wind of Holy Spirit in our lungs and spirit. It will develop endurance and the ability to be present in the pain, to rest in the unusual positions that God puts us in. The yoga was a physical picture of what God was teaching me spiritually (I find there are often things that happen physically that are pictures of what God is doing spiritually).
This post is already an absolute minefield of encouragement; I linked verses, songs, and sermons, all throughout this if you want to go further into these topics.
Candles and baths and cucumbers on your eyes are all wonderful, and if that’s your thing, go for it! But don’t forget to take care of your spirit too. Our bodies get weary and we definitely do need to make sure that they get the recommended hours of sleep and the day of rest each week, but let’s not forget our hearts and souls and minds and spirits. Let’s not forget to worship (this is one of my favorite songs to worship to this week
). Let’s be purposeful to think positive
, taking negative thoughts out
like the trash they are.
Let’s be refilled with and by Christ.
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