By Aundi Kolber
I used to think self care was selfish.
If I’m honest, it was because I was jealous. As a classic overly responsible, perfectionistic overachiever, the thing I most longed for was the ability to say no and find rest.
And so, because I didn’t understand and couldn’t seem to manage my own self care, I was critical of it.
But then, like scales falling from my eyes, I began to see. It wasn’t until I took a serious look at my own unhealthy practices and dynamics that I realized how they were affecting my ability to live—and thrive—in the fullest way.
And then the epiphany came: self care is like breathing.
If we truly want to live, we don’t have a whole lot of choice on whether we do self care. In fact, the idea of rest is so vital that God caused it to be woven into our weekly rhythms.
Honoring your body, soul, and spirit is not a luxury—it’s a requirement in order to be well. Unlike breathing, we can technically exist without self care—but it may mean we are resentful, angry, and exhausted.
How’s that for abundant life?
As a counselor, one of the primary skills I seek to teach every client is increased self-awareness and the ability to implement necessary self care.
What do I mean when I say self care? I mean practices that restore you to your truest and best self. These practices renew and revive.
So why does it matter so much?
The answer is surprisingly simple. We can’t grow emotionally unless we have the skills to replenish the energy we lose on the way. Furthermore, we can’t give to others what we ourselves don’t have—namely, peace and joy. How do we become a person who has these to give? We must know how to restore the energy we use in processing pain, caring for others, and learning new skills.
It might be easy to think that only folks in counseling should utilize self care. In fact, it’s the opposite. Many of the weary souls I work with end up in my office because they never learned how to appropriately care for their bodies, souls, and emotions.
How many of us have a difficult job? Sickness? Stress? Or are simply experiencing the weariness of the human condition?
Our issues may be different, but the answer to those situations is similar—take care. Be gentle. Find rest.
As a Christian and a counselor, I am often grieved by our culture’s misconstrued perceptions of self care. I have watched many people criticize themselves because they have reached their limit but believe it’s not okay to seek care for themselves. They may even believe they are dishonoring God by indulging themselves.
Dear one, true self care is neither selfish nor indulgent.
Can we finally admit that we aren’t all powerful, and thus we require rest? Can we admit that God gave us limits for a reason, and this is why we need Him so? This is why He wrapped the beauty of Sabbath into his plan.
Our God is nothing if not a God of rest. And ultimately, one who is deeply attached to the best resource we have for self care—Himself.
When Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden…I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 ESV), I think this is the type of life he meant: one seasoned with rest, joy, and life-giving activities.
Join me there, won’t you? In the place where we honor how God made us? Where we recognize that just as we are called to treat our neighbors well, so also we are made to love ourselves well.
Aundi Kolber loves Jesus, people, and stories. She has a goofy sense of humor, but may start a deep conversation within five minutes of meeting you. She is a professional counselor in Colorado. Her hope is to use her voice to talk about hard and beautiful things. Aundi blogs at bravelyimperfect.com.