For the past few years, the self-care movement has swept through social media, proclaiming that things such as light exercise, mindfulness, and regular alone time can bring peace, healing, and order to our lives. While there is nothing wrong with caring for one’s health, the idea of “self-care” and the momentum behind the crusade of articles, pictures, and posts that promote it should be carefully considered by Christians who handle the Word of truth.
What is the self-care movement?
The internet’s modern self-care movement has stemmed from the mental health movement – a horde of people looking to destigmatize and increase available care options for those with mental illness. Self-care is a practical and holistic method of treatment that focuses on taking care of one’s physical and mental health through daily routine. This approach often includes things like meditating, writing down one’s feelings in a journal, spending time on one’s hobbies, or making healthy changes to one’s diet.
How should Christians approach self-care?
Resting and properly caring for our bodies is certainly included in God’s desires for us, but what kind of focus should a Christian have on “self-care”? To understand how we should live as Christians, we need to look at the One whom we are following, the perfect example of goodness and Godly living: Jesus Christ.
We know from Scripture such as Matthew 14 that when the Son of God went away from people, He went to pray and seek God the Father. Jesus did not have “me time” but GOD time. He slept and ate when it was necessary (Mark 6:30-32), but He was not refreshed from simply being alone. He recharged from spending one-on-one time with God!
If we are focusing on our needs, we are not focusing on God.
Like Jesus, we are called to lives of ministry, persecution, and hardship. It may be tempting to put on our metaphorical oxygen masks before diving into the depths of His calling. Don’t be deceived. Our needs will be taken care of as we trust and follow Him; after all, He made our bodies and brains! He undoubtedly can care for them in ways we cannot conceive, and we can trust that He will always do what is right (Romans 8:28.)
The self-care movement contradicts the Gospel.
The entire point of the Gospel is that healing and fulfillment does NOT come from within ourselves, but from Jesus! If our “self-care” is not centered around Christ, we are only deluding ourselves with temporary, spiritual Band-Aids in the form of yoga, bubble baths, tea, and self-gratifying journaling. We must trust that Jesus CAN heal even our darkest, most desperate pain. We must truly believe that He IS enough for us.
Christianity is not simply a label. It is not our religious identity, nor is it construed of the time we spend in a church. When we turn from our sin to follow Jesus, our whole lives should change. Everything is done for His glory, because He is worthy! Paul urges us in 1 Corinthians 10:31:
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
If we care for our bodies and selves, we should do so in obedience to Him and for His glory. Too often the self-care and mental health movements are used to distract people from seeking God’s saving grace. We MUST focus on seeking and loving God. Our needs will be truly fulfilled when we are with Him.