Self-Care vs. Soul Care

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We’re Malissa and Nicole, co-founders and best friends! Through this blog, we aim to be a place of truth for followers of Jesus in an age of constant cultural distraction. We long to see every woman choose to follow Christ in the dailiness of their lives, and to experience how that decision redefines what it means to live well.

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Are you feeling down?
Have you taken some “me time” today?
Maybe what you need is a little self-care.

The self-care conversation has been floating around for a while now. However, I’ve noticed that everyone has a different definition of self-care, which makes sense since we all have different needs and preferences. I prefer a cup of orange pekoe but I have friends that prefer a glass of merlot. I would take chocolate over pretzels, or alone time over a girl’s night out.

As a mom, there is a lot of talk about the lack of time we have to ourselves, and that precious me-time that we need to guard fiercely. For others, maybe you’ve felt challenged to find a work-home balance, or you feel on the edge of burnout. We can’t be the women we want to be if we don’t first pour into ourselves. You can’t pour from an empty well. However, what I’ve learned is my idea of “empty” changes. I may think, “if she wakes one more time tonight.. I don’t know what I’ll do,” but you know what, she does wake up and so do I. I get up, I feed her and I bounce her up and down, up and down until her eyelids shut.

When I think I have come to the end of myself, I learn that where my strength, love, and patience dwindles, God shines.

When I spend those bounces praying or singing worship music instead of wallowing my soul feels uplifted. I can feel God’s greatness meeting me at my weakest and filling me up. My baby may wake again, but something in me changes, and I can cope with it better.

I don’t just survive another night, I grow and I learn more of God’s character and his deep love for me.

Just like the woman at the well (John 4), when you go to the source of living water you never get thirsty again. It doesn’t mean life isn’t hard, or that there aren’t moments where the beating sun on your head makes you thirsty again, it means that even in those tough moments your soul remains quenched. When we go to other sources, other wells, we won’t find satisfaction and will keep coming back to that girl’s night, that glass of wine, or whatever it is that we have convinced ourselves will help us get through.

If that thing is anything other than God we are fooling ourselves and just treading water.

If you have participated in the Well Practice then some of these thoughts may sound familiar. For those of you who haven’t tried the Well Practice, I highly recommend it.

Now I’m not saying that that glass of wine you enjoy after a long day is a bad thing, or that you shouldn’t enjoy some me-time or a girl’s night out. But rather, I’m asking you, why? What is the motivation behind your chosen self-care? Have you considered practicing an act that has a lasting impact on you? I like to call this Soul-Care.

I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to make sure I’m taking care of my soul is trying to make some healthier swaps to build some new habits and to make me more aware of the state of my soul. Just like learning to swap your favourite guilty pleasure snacks for some healthier options. It doesn’t mean you never have that chocolate or those chips, it simply means you find a better balance. These are some of the swaps I’ve found helpful:

  • Reading a psalm on my phone first or even instead of scrolling through social media before bed.
  • Starting my day with a big cup of tea, breakfast, and reading my bible. In my house, this looks like my daughter eating her breakfast while watching Frozen while I sit at the kitchen table trying to scarf down my food and doing my devos. Yes, I get interrupted multiple times, but this is a rhythm that has worked for us.
  • While making dinner or doing other household stuff I try to add more worship music to my mix. Some days I want to jam out to some classic Taylor Swift (LOL) and others where I know I need some worship music and I can feel it shift things in my soul.
  • Ending your day with an “I’m grateful” list that you use to pray and thank God. I find this particularly helpful on hard days. Sometimes the list is short and other days it is long.
  • Building relationships with women that are also trying to prioritize Jesus in their lives. A great example is signing up for the Well Practice. This was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

Jesus knows us better than ourselves, and we can look to him and his life for encouragement and guidance.

After feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14), Jesus makes an interesting choice. He sends his disciples off, dismisses the crowd, and does what a lot of us feel like doing after a long day:

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” // Matthew 14:23

He took some much needed alone time. We may think “Oh, even Jesus needed his me time,” but I think there’s more to it. Jesus didn’t step away to be by himself, enjoy the sunset, and drink a glass of wine. Yes, he was probably tired, probably feeling a bit drained, maybe he even felt peopled out after a long day.

He goes up to that mountain to pray. Jesus knows the only way to truly rejuvenate his soul is to be with the Father.

It isn’t with a wellness retreat or a good ranting session with a bestie. Jesus goes to his Father. He goes for relationship, encouragement, a reminder of his mission. He goes to take a deep drink from the well. He goes because he needs close intimacy with the Father, he goes because he knew that one day you and I would be struggling with the same things and be looking for a better way.

In this season of transition, as the world has started opening up again and we get back into those September routines, my prayer for you is that though you may feel tempted to fill your calendar and your life with all that you have been missing and aching for these long months, that you also make the time to be with your Father. I pray that you would find your quiet mountain top in everyday life and that you would feel that shift in your soul as God meets you there.

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