Do You Think Self-Care is Selfish or Sacred? - Lisa E Betz
Do you think self-care is selfish? Or perhaps you think self-care falls into the I-know-I-should-do-more-but-I never-seem-to-have-time category. If you’ve ignored self-care for too long, you might have reached a point of crisis, like Sue Fink. Her belief that self-care was selfish led her on a journey to write a book to help others overcome the self-care myths that hold them back from thriving as they could.
I love the idea that self-care isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a sacred act. If you struggle with guilt or confusion over whether self-care is Biblical, Sue’s book will guide you through scriptures and journaling questions that will help you unravel myth from truth.
Sue’s story: How ignoring my self-care became a book
How would you react if:
- A doctor tells you your auto-immune disease is caused by and will get worse from stress?
- You add more to your to-do list every day than you cross off?
- You often feel forgetful , impatient, overwhelmed and depressed?
Two years ago I identified with everything on this list. A Christian counselor had been urging me to set boundaries and do self-care. She was right, but I had no idea what these behaviors were, much less how or why to do them. In fact, I thought self-care was not something evangelical, busy-for-Jesus, people did. But after extensive research and numerous interviews, I discovered my and others’ misunderstandings and false beliefs. Eventually, ten of these became chapters for the book, Self-Care: Selfish or Sacred? An Interactive Guide to Myths and Misunderstandings.
Even though I had written two books previously, this project revealed several surprises. My first surprise was the length of time it took to write the first draft (over one year), then edit, rewrite, more editing, and analyzing formatting suggestions from the publisher. Next, gathering ideas and finalizing the front and back covers was such a complicated procedure it almost pushed me into a decision overload funk. Although I should have expected feelings of discouragement throughout the entire book producing process, I was surprised at how often it would rear it’s serpent’s head to whisper “Give it up! Why do you think you are an author?” Thankfully, unexpected blessings came when my book was released earlier this year. It’s received a good number of purchases and positive reviews. *
What’s your self-care hang-up??
Self-Care: Selfish or Sacred starts off with a quiz, to identify a potential reader’s need for working through the book. The format for each chapter first takes a look at a myth or misunderstands about self-care (the chapter’s title). Each chapter shares the author’s struggle specific to the myth, and offers ideas to help a reader’s potential struggle. Next comes a section with Scripture and an illustrative reflection. The “Motivation Identification” contains life application questions and includes blank pages for the reader’s answers. A summary of the chapter follows, with suggested prompts to encourage prayer writing.
Is self-care selfish because it only honors me?
One of the myths I had believed in was: self-care only honors me. After all, I thought, wasn’t self-care part of the new-age, navel-gazing, what works for me, selfish lifestyle? The term brought pictures of personal chefs, chauffeurs and mansion chalets to my mind.
But when my infant grandbaby cried for her needs to be met, no one labeled that behavior as being selfish. Research has shown if a baby does not communicate in this way, it indicates a probable disability of evidence of abandonment.[i] Chapter four of my book continues this topic:
God gave both animal and human little ones the ability to express the food, safety, and attention needed for survival. Isn’t it acceptable then, for God’s children of all ages to know and attend to their preservation?…Self-care may sound selfish, but it enables me to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10) more effectively. If I make smart decisions regarding the upkeep of good physical health, for example, I’m better able to assist the needs/interest of those whom God has place in my life.[ii]
Self-care and entertainment
How do you “do” self-care? Do you include relaxation in your schedule? Chapter Six takes a look a social media, gaming and entertainment. Do these things help to lessen or add stress to our lives?
“ I won’t watch a movie or show unless it has been recommended by a trusted source…I don’t care to waste a couple of hours with depressing, dumb, or God-disrespecting ‘entertainment’…Social media does help connect and encourage people. Playing board and electronic games with family or friends will often improve those relationships by sharing common fun. Have you used activities such as sports to get to know new people? Author Henri Nouwen advises, ‘Entertainment is often good for us, it gives us an evening or a day off from our worries and fears. But when we start living life as entertainment, we lose touch with our souls and become little more than spectators in a lifelong show.’”[iii]
If you or someone you know is confused by or feeling guilty about pursuing self-care, check out the stories, Scriptures and conversation starters provided in Self-Care: Selfish or Sacred. More excerpts, a podcast, purchasing and other information can be found at www.SusanLFink.com.
Susan’s writing goal is to encourage others to study the Bible, enabling growth in their relationship with and appreciation for their Savior.
Her background includes teaching various ages from pre-school to adult, being a hospice volunteer coordinator, obtaining post graduate Staff Ministry Certification and enjoying freelance writing for most of her adult life. Other books include How Christian Mothers Cope (Northwestern Publishing) and the e-book Developing Devoted Families. Susan writes frequently for the Holy Hen House magazine, her blog, Reflection, Inspiration and Humor (susanlfink.blogspot.com) and is a facilitator for GriefShare— a grief recovery support group.
From Manitowoc, Wisconsin, her current blessings include being a wife, a mother to three multi-talented, well-married children and grandma to one perfect granddaughter.
[ii] p. 54, Self-Care: Selfish or Sacred? (Christian Faith Publishing)
[iii] P. 83,ibid