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Alisa Nelson

Health

Abandoning fear for thriving

Redefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength CollectiveRedefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

What if you had no reason to be afraid? I looked up the definition given for “fear” and Google kindly provided me with the words “an unpleasant emotion…” Thank you, Google, for putting it so delicately. Fear is more than unpleasant, in my experience. I have lived a life ruled by fear – desperate to be loved and accepted by those around me.

When I was in high school we took that little survey that would tell us which love language we speak. Mine came out pretty even across the board and over the years I’ve joked that it’s because “I just wanna be loved!” All the while knowing in my heart that it’s true and it’s actually not all that funny. We go to great lengths to feel the security of love.

When I entered into the fitness industry, my eyes were opened to the fear that has entangled the hearts of women across generations. Suddenly I could see pain everywhere, women hurting over the many ways they weren’t aligning with the world’s picture of beauty. Striving and grasping for an elusive state of “health” and “fitness” – succumbing to half-truths and over-simplified information about their nutrition and their right to enjoy the food in front of them. I began to see in my own life the ways I fear the thoughts and opinions of others regarding my body and the food on my plate.

Tales of a Peanut 2 Timothy 1-7 Fear

Here at Tales of a Peanut we’ve been talking about survival mode and the different ways we can pursue everyday strength as we use self care to propel us forward and cultivate courage. Fear is the emotion that stops us in our tracks. It tells us we aren’t measuring up and that we aren’t worth loving. Our fear turns us inward, analyzing our behaviors and our appearance, looking for ways to tweak the way others perceive us. If only to get just a little more love – whatever the cost. It’s for this reason that our “relationship” with food has become so problematic.

Fear is the emotion that stops us in our tracks. - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

We eat multiple times per day and it’s about time we stepped out of the fear and shame that clouds our hearts and minds, don’t you think? Will you come with me?

Tales of a Peanut 1 John 4-16b God Is Love

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16b-18

Adam and Eve were the first to experience shame. They were suddenly compelled to hide from their Maker and each other. Their fear blinded them to the memory of the love they experienced in the presence of God. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament God’s people continued to choose fear over perfect love – they ran away from him, thankless and forgetful of all he had provided. The prophets were commissioned to speak the words of the Lord – condemning the sin that enshrouded the Israelites and beckoning them back to the One who would restore them and walk with them as a husband with his bride.

“In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.’” Zephaniah 3:16-17

Zephaniah prophesied of the coming Messiah – of Jesus – who would restore the world and drive out fear through the ultimate sacrifice. He took the punishment that was rightfully ours and invites us into his presence as his redeemed bride.

Just like the Israelites and generations before us, we often choose to walk in fear and shame instead of walking in God’s love.

Sister, the fear you have over your food, appearance, and the opinions of others is unfounded. You have been set free from the one thing you should truly fear – separation from the One our souls long to commune with. When we embrace the gift of grace, we can side step the chaos the world is trying to throw at us and eat our food in freedom.

Freedom from the fear of what the Mom across the table from you is eating compared to what you’re eating.

Freedom from the fear of stepping on the scale just to see the number crawl higher.

Freedom from the constant battle between deciding to indulge and the guilt and weakness that we feel afterwards.

But here’s what we can’t miss: our health is a real thing that deserves our attention. Not because of fear but because we are walking in God’s love and want to be stewards of these bodies that he has given us.

We were created with a need to replenish our energy stores through the consumption of delicious edibles. There are dietary fats, amino acids, and other biochemicals that we must eat in order to perform the many processes in our cells. Food sustains our lives. When it comes to the maintenance of our bodies, the foods we choose to eat matter and there is a real biological problem with the manufactured food in our culture that creates difficulties in that maintenance. It’s important to understand what will lead you to thrive as a human being. High value foods like those rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber will help you thrive. That’s just the way science works.

Tales of a Peanut Thrive

Approaching nutrition as a science (as opposed to out of fear) does a few things for us:

Defines the problem

Instead of approaching our nutrition from a state of fear, which leads to constantly trying to solve the problem of security rather than health, we can ask the questions whose answers will help us effectively move toward healthier living.

For example:

  • How do we effectively care for our bodies?
  • What foods provide the nutrients we need for our cells to perform their specific tasks?
  • How can we manipulate our nutrition during high-stress seasons (like motherhood?) to balance our hormones and boost our immune systems (two areas that suffer during chronic stress).

 

Sets parameters for observation

We look at the data we can influence, instead of the emotions and opinions we can’t. We can increase or decrease the amount or type of food we eat. We can sleep more (sometimes). As we come to understand what our bodies need and how they work, we can begin to mold it. Our confidence in giving our bodies the types of foods that it needs replaces our fear.

 

Builds in assessment and feedback

For many women, the scale is the only real “feedback” they get on their health. Is the number going up or down? But there are better sources of feedback that we can use as we practice untangling our identity from our appearance. When it comes to our nutrition we can look at energy levels, sleep quality, presence or absence of gut discomfort, and ability to focus throughout the day. Don’t get hung up on a number – your weight is actually based upon many things (water intake, hormone balance, time of day, etc) and therefore can’t tell you specifically if what you are doing is helping or not.

Tales of a Peanut Food Choice

Food choice does not need to continue to be a stressor in our lives. We’re women with many other responsibilities to concern ourselves with. If in our everyday lives we are celebrating the victory Jesus declares over us then we can freely approach our nutrition from a place of already thriving. And we can eat to fuel our bodies enabling us to remain alert and effective, ready to keep going.

I will close with a quote from Influence Network co-founder, Jess Connolly. I asked her how she has seen her weight loss journey affect her creatively and she paints such a perfect picture of how the Gospel and a good understanding of our body’s needs frees us in the everyday. She said, “For me, the #1 reason to exercise is that because spending one hour a day doing the right thing frees me up to NOT think about it the rest of my day. I spend one hour, partnering with the Lord, becoming stronger and stewarding the body He’s given me. The rest of the day when I feel tempted to think about my body or feel insecure, I can throw it off and know a) God loves me b) I’m doing my part and c) I AM getting stronger and growing, slowly but surely.”

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

I love Alisa’s post today. Food is such a stressor in my life but she is so right…I have way too many other things to concern myself with to stress out over food! Do you struggle with food, nutrition, health, weight, or all of the above? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Sometimes just knowing that we’re not alone makes it infinitely easier to bear a stressor!

Health, Personal

Movement Is Self-Care

Redefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength CollectiveRedefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

When you think of exercising, what emotions and thoughts begin to surface? Do you feel guilty? Hopeful? Excited? Or does it stress you out to even consider it? In the previous two posts we’ve established that self-care is about more than making ourselves comfortable. It’s about getting ourselves ready to keep going. To keep carrying the responsibilities, meeting the needs, and pouring out as the nurturers and caregivers to our families (and anyone else who has been placed in our path).

So when you think of exercising, is it an adder or a subtractor to your self-care?

Is exercise an adder or a subtractor to your self-care? - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

Your body has 206 bones that are joined together by muscle and connective tissue. The head of your femur fits snugly in the acetabulum of your pelvis where it glides around giving you 6 different directions of movement. This is astonishing and praiseworthy. And that’s just one joint. You were designed to move — to respond to stimuli, produce force from within yourself, and effect change to your external world.

Self Care - Strength Collective - Tales of a Peanut

Somewhere along the way, this design was distorted. When we consider the link between movement and self-care, we have to address the messages we receive from media and advertising in order to make sense of our current beliefs. Only then can we pivot toward a more biblical approach to the way we treat our bodies and how we use them to interact with our environment.

Based on the products available and the number of times we are bombarded with the message throughout our day, moms are typically in pursuit of their pre-baby body (I’m staring at yet another article in Parents Magazine right now). Exercise and health become a right as we search for that piece of ourselves that feels familiar and a moment to call our own. Mama, these are not bad things. But please, as I write and pray, hear these words and feel the call of freedom: you can be yourself – familiar but new, comfortable but different – without the end result being your pre-baby body. The two are not equivalent. And those women you see who are thriving and thin? Don’t assume the former was born of the latter.

Self-Care - Strength Collective - Tales of a Peanut

Movement has many benefits. The most relevant at the moment is that when we steward our bodies well, all of our systems work together to function as they were designed. Activity induces our energy systems to work more efficiently and creates a ripple effect throughout our physiology. Resulting in fat loss for many. Other results that I’ve come across in my life and the lives of my clients are:

  • increases in energy, self-confidence, and engagement in life;
  • better focus and decision-making throughout the day;
  • better perspective on the body;
  • the establishment of a rhythm to the day; and
  • increase in self-awareness

Pastor Tim Keller says, “The main problem our heart has is not so much desires for bad things, but our over-desires for good things.” How we take care of our bodies is no different. Desiring health, ease of movement, or a slimmer waist are not inherently bad things. But when we step onto the yoga mat, throw on our running shoes, or set up for a deadlift, we are going to be operating out of our beliefs about our bodies and our lives. Is it a gift or a right? Are you a slave to your performance or are you free?

Are you a slave to your athletic performance or are you free? - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

As important as breathing, our time of intentional movement is an inhale and exhale of Truth. The inhale – a slowing down to savor it and breathe it into every joint and tissue. Rising up in strength coupled with perseverance and hope.

And what about pain? It is the exhale. When the weight feels too heavy or the miles too long, you get to practice the physical manifestations of spiritual principles: Grace and Trust. As light penetrates the corners of your fear and doubt, you breathe out who you are in Christ. More than the number on your scale or on your clothes. A being clothed in the image of God called forth from the dust to bring glory and honor to the one who knit you together. That body that is too spent to go one more round is sustained by a Spirit than never wavers. He will carry you and he will fulfill his work in and through you.

Exhale Self Care - Strength Collective Tales of a Peanut

The work you do will reveal your weakness. And if your physical activity is about feeling ok about yourself and getting the results that make you feel worthy, that weakness will devastate you. Or, could it be that your weakness is grace? Given to push you toward the Spirit? The apostle, Paul, tells us:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

The way you think about your body and your reaction to weakness and to strength are not isolated events from your identity in Christ. It is also not an area of your life that only brings in ideas of self-discipline and deprivation. Jesus as the Bread of Life and Living Water is for every crevice of who you are and how you spend your time. Let it be Him who fills you and defines your worth. Let it be Him who drives you to keep going.

To begin using your daily movement as another everyday approach to self-care, consider one of the following ideas:

  1. Write down ALL the ways you move your body right now. Then write down all the ways you enjoy moving your body. How can the second list make up more of the first? What is in the first that you honestly really don’t enjoy. (This is where I stopped attempting to be a runner).
  2. Choose something FUN and make it a new goal to either gain a skill or just do it more often. Handstands or tricky balance yoga poses, intramural sports, rollerblading, whatever makes you feel slightly silly but makes you feel that smolder of life in your heart. Giggling and playing around is not just for our daughters. Practice grace (because it is hard to be playful sometimes) and intentionally release any expectations that this has to produce a specific outcome other than pure pleasure.
  3. Invite a friend along as you go for a walk, try out a yoga (or Zumba) class, or hike through your local woods. Anything really, just do it with a friend. These are called active dates – coffee is great but there’s something about moving together that changes the tone of your gathering.
  4. Use that friend to start processing your current view of movement and of your body. That might sound a little scary but one of the necessary steps to changing your mindset is to realize that you aren’t the only one struggling. It’s actually all of us. You might have to make the first move but speaking truth over each other’s pain and insecurity and laying them at the feet of Jesus together brings unity. Love drives out fear – let yourself be loved.

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Free Printable Strength Collective and Tales of a Peanut on Self-care

Just like with Alisa’s last post, if you sign up for The Peanut Post you will receive a pdf printable with worksheets to go along with her posts. These pdf’s include action steps and encouragement to keep you on the right path to a lifetime of self-care. If you are a new subscriber the file will be emailed to you immediately after you sign up. If you are a current subscriber you can either resubscribe with this link to receive the file immediately or it will be delivered in the next issue of The Peanut Post.

As a list maker, I’m excited to print out this week’s worksheet and write down the ways I move now just so that I can then cross off the ones I want to get rid of! Does anyone else do this? What forms of movement are you looking to take on or get rid of this week to take better care of yourself? Tell me in the comments!

Faith, Health, Mommy Advice, Personal

Redefining Self Care :: Living Water

Redefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength CollectiveRedefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

I’m here this month to tell you that self-care, like so many other things in life, is a practice. We each have fall back habits that kick into gear when life gets busy and it takes energy to replace those that are detrimental with something more positive. I can’t pretend there is a quick fix. But I can tell you there is hope and a clear path to greater abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your busy day, week, and season. I come to you in humility – admitting that I need this just as much as you do – and pray that together we can grow in the everyday kind of strength that leaves us more capable of blessing those around us and abiding more deeply in our tireless Savior.

Last month I asked you to take stock of your reaction to hunger. Maybe that seemed like a silly question but this practice of checking in with yourself – looking at your emotional state, impulsive behavior, and how a biological event such as hunger affects both – is possibly the most important habit you could have as you take care of yourself.

How many of us have vowed to drink more water throughout the day only to remember when it hits 4pm and all we’ve had is coffee? This happens because we lose touch with ourselves. We get caught up in the worries and the tasks of our environment. For most of us, this has gone on for so long that we aren’t even really sure what that whole water thing is all about. Instead of identifying water as a need, which comes with self-knowledge and long-term thinking, we put it in the “supposed to” category.

Instead of identifying water as a need, we put it in the supposed to category - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

The beautiful reason to drink water is that our cells need it to survive and carry out their functions. It sustains life and enables the chemical reactions necessary for you to read these words, throw your giggling babe in the air, and emotionally connect with your husband. When we fulfill this basic need for hydration, our bodies get to work the way they were designed.

It’s with this perspective that Jesus as Living Water speaks to our thirsty hearts, producing lush fruit despite the drought of the world around us. In John 4, Jesus approaches a Samaritan woman and through conversation establishes her need for the kind of water that permanently satisfies. She, of course, is tired of going to the well and jumps on board with that idea. We do the same thing right? We hear about this need for our own deep soul contentment and, instead of understanding the kind of help Jesus is talking about, we want five steps to no more nagging kids because that would be so very nice.

John 4-14 Tales of a Peanut Strength Collective

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

We, like the Samaritan woman, are unacquainted with our real needs. We feel a deep longing in the back of our heads and hearts so we go raid the pantry for chocolate. But we who have faith in Christ know it will never satisfy. Contentment requires more than a perfectly constructed moment in time. It requires opening our eyes to the Messiah who has come to show us what life is really all about (John 4:25-26).

We, like the Samaritan woman, are unacquainted with our real needs. - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

Genuine self-care starts with questioning that hunger that sent you to the pantry or scrolling through social media. What’s really going on here? Where am I at emotionally? Psychologists call this mindfulness.

I call it keeping your brain on.

It’s tempting and automatic to shift into autopilot when the day feels a little too long. But remember how we defined self-care as the things we do to prepare ourselves to keep going? Numbing myself to the frustration and pain of pouring out all I have (and it never being enough) is not going to help me get ready for the next round. So what instead?

Keep Your Brain On Tales of a Peanut Strength Collective
Keep your brain on. Throughout each day, Christ invites us to drink deep as we abide in Him. He asks us to use his strength instead of our own. The fall of man gave us a predilection for doing everything on our own so we need to consciously step aside. Self-care doesn’t need to be a special day with no kids and a really good massage that we look forward to like our life depends upon it. Self-care can be five minutes of stepping outside to just be and check in on your internal environment.

Re-establishing a mind that is present in the moment instead of wandering through the past failures and future maybes allows us to recognize what identity we are operating out of – one that is sustained by Jesus or something else. When we see it, we can once again surrender to the One who is more than capable to deal with everything on our plate and choose to focus on what he has placed in front of us at this very moment. This is how we keep going.

It is possible to bring mindfulness to your entire day. Remember when I talked about practice? We’re going to start small. Taking care of ourselves and moving out of survival mode on a daily basis looks like actively engaging your mind and your heart in your current season. It might sound counterintuitive, but embracing your life as it is will save you so much energy. When you feel tired, overwhelmed, and stretched thin, don’t disengage. Reach directly for the Water that truly satisfies.

When you feel overwhelmed, don't disengage. Reach for the Water that truly satisfies -… Click To Tweet

There are a number of places to start in the pursuit of everyday strength. Being a woman and a mother who thrives no matter what is going on around her – clothed in strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25) – can begin simply. The key is practice and a lot of grace. Here are a few action steps to get you going:

Wake up before your kids – even if it’s just 5 minutes – to be silent and orient your mind and heart toward Christ.

Set out water each evening to drink first thing when you wake. Use that time to remind yourself of the Living Water, and ask yourself “Do I feel satisfied?” Don’t be afraid of the answer, let it be and work to surrender whatever it is – joy or anxiety – over to Jesus.

Set an alarm for 3-4 times throughout the day (when you are usually relatively free) and take a 2-3 minute internal check. How are you feeling? Where are your thoughts and attentions? What do you need to surrender to Jesus so you can move back into the present?

Use your time while washing the dishes or folding laundry to check in. Breathe deeply and be totally present with your task. Don’t wander to your schedule or that instagram post that bothered you, just look at you and your current state.

Journal for a few minutes before going to sleep – fight the urge to flip through social media or email one last time and instead think through a few basic questions to set you up for the next day:

Where did I feel most satisfied today?

Where did I feel most chaotic? Empty? Dissatisfied with the present?

What thoughts were continually drawing my attention away from my present?

What is one thing I want to do tomorrow because it makes me feel happy and satisfied?

A key is to be observational – not judgmental. Practice giving yourself grace and being vulnerable with yourself. When we are more present, we can face the difficulties and the joys head on, living more fully in each day. It may be a hard season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be full of satisfaction.

It may be a hard season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be full of satisfaction - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

 

Thank you Alisa for your wisdom! I am definitely going to work on paying more attention to my internal temperature thanks to the questions that you’ve asked in this post!

Self Care Printable Tales of a Peanut Strength Collective

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Faith, Health, Mommy Advice

Redefining Self Care :: Self Care Is Not Selfish

Here at Tales of a Peanut I’m wanting to partner with some additional women to provide you with the best content that I can. My ultimate goal is to help you connect with God and with each other. So today I’m introducing you to Alisa Nelson from Strength Collective. She is going to be writing for us about once a month and is starting out talking about Self Care. I will tell you that when I read her first draft of this post I cried because it was exactly what I needed to hear. So I am extremely excited to share her wisdom with you and I hope that you learn as much from her as I am. You can find all of her contact information on the new Contributors page. We would both love for you to get involved with this series (and with all of the others posts on this site) so that we can help you grow in Christ. Without further ado, here’s Alisa!

Redefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength CollectiveRedefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

I became a mom very unexpectedly. A mere 5 months into marriage I found myself graduating from college and taking a pregnancy test – I became a stay-at-home mom to a little girl at 22 years old. And as any new mom can imagine, transitioning out of the idea I’d had of the future to the one sitting in front of me was difficult. One day my husband came home from work and I gave him my usual exhausted look. He didn’t normally respond with the sympathy I imagined I deserved and this time was no different. In fact, we had a discussion that night that has remained in my heart as a pivot point in our marriage and my life in general. I realized I was living for the moment he walked through the door. Once he was home, I was done for the day. Dinner was always a last minute thought, he was handed our daughter, and every night I had zero interest in talking or investing in him – I just wanted to go to bed. In looking back, I can see I was neck deep in survival mode – and it was evident I was planning to live this way until I got enough “me time” to recuperate.

I began to ask questions of myself and of God – what does it even mean to have energy to keep pouring out? What does it look like, in this season, to be a blessing to other people and raise my daughter to rejoice through all of life’s circumstances?

There’s this weird tension for the mother – we’re expected to be everything to everybody but then we are expected to not be defined by our motherhood. Tricky. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this is a recipe for survival mode. I’ve seen the thought lingering in the back of my mind, “Maybe if I hustle and get all the needs met, I will be able to slip away and I’ll have earned my time alone.” Sadly, toddlers haven’t learned that rule yet. There is always another need. Always more dishes and more laundry. Always another opportunity to experience the guilt and shame of being the only mom who can’t keep it all together.

When I was in the early postpartum days after my son was born, I had a realization (after magically getting both kids in bed at the same time) that I didn’t have to clean up lunch right away. Instead, I slipped into bed and grabbed a nap. This is one of the ways I practice self-care on a daily basis – and I’m not talking about the nap.

 

As I dive into that word – “self-care” – I want to start with what it is not. Self-care is not selfish. A mother is not automatically neglecting her family nor is she automatically relinquishing responsibility. I emphasize that word, automatically, because self-care is complex. As with so many relational topics, the heart of the person matters more than any hard and fast rules. Self-care is not the opportunity to temporarily remove the role of motherhood. If my response to needing a break from my kids is to drop everything in my husband’s lap so I can go do whatever I want, I won’t experience the rest I am hoping for. Do you see that?

So, then, what is self-care? I believe it is everything we do to prepare ourselves to keep going. To keep loving, keep pouring out, keep laughing, keep wiping sticky fingers and hugging our little people when they can’t figure out how to listen. To keep pursuing our husbands even when the middle-of-the-night wake up is looming. And to keep our hearts tuned to the nudging of the Spirit who might point us to yet another person who needs us.

Self-care is everything we do to prepare ourselves to keep going. - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

In Deuteronomy 8, the Lord gives an explanation for the way he addressed a most basic need of the Israelites while they trudged through the desert –

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

Deuteronomy 8:3 - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

Forty years is a long time. Everyday they were supposed to practice trusting God to supply all of their needs – to keep going when their hunger pangs grew stronger. Trust that each morning would bring new manna from heaven – an outpouring of their Father’s love.

Hunger is a scary feeling. Our bodies respond by releasing hormones and neurotransmitters, fixing our attention on any nearby food in order to induce us to eat. If you think back, you will probably be able to recall a time when you suddenly realized how hungry you were. What did you experience? How did you react? Were you in the drive thru line before you even realized what was happening?

We can hit that sort of wall in our everyday life when it comes to rest too. Where we suddenly feel desperate for moments of quiet. What’s your fall back? Are you quick to start scrolling through your various social media feeds? Do you see yourself starting to get snippy with your kids?

It was in these moments that the Israelites responded with grumbling – more food, more water, more variety. Nothing was enough. I, and probably you too, find I can have quite the appetite when I have taken it upon myself to provide for my needs. I will consume anything I can find – whether that be food, entertainment, or silence. What I seek for myself – and what I want to see you seek alongside me – is the discipline of surrender. I think self-care in light of the Gospel looks like ceasing all the striving and hustling so we can crawl up to our Father and be reminded of our humanity. He didn’t make us to be Energizer bunnies. He made us to require rest and rejuvenation – food, water, sleep, quiet reflection and prayer. We were created to need constant connection with Him. Because we are sinful, we have to consistently check in and take notice of how we have strayed. We will never be able to continuously outpour ourselves to those in our lives if we are not being poured into by the well that never runs dry.

When I left that lunch table messy and took a nap, the self-care part was not the nap. No, the self-care was actually the letting go of my own perfection. Recognizing that in that instance, a clean table was not going to help me be ready for the next round. I didn’t realize it then but this was a practice in trusting God. Not that somehow my house would end up clean, but that my satisfaction did not depend upon these perceived expectations of being everything to everyone. I didn’t have to secure my own happiness or my own peace.

My satisfaction didn't depend upon these expectations of being everything to everyone-… Click To Tweet

As I wrap up, consider this passage from Hebrews 6 –

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

This “oath” the author refers to goes back to Genesis where God made a covenant with Abraham – “surely I will bless you and multiply you.” When it came time for the covenant ceremony to be performed – where both parties would walk through a line of animals split in two, thus saying “may this be me if I do not keep this oath” – the Lord made Abraham fall asleep and walked through on his own. This means that the Lord was vowing to hold to his oath no matter what Abraham (or his offspring) did. So when the Israelites grumbled in the desert, the Lord remained faithful. All the way until Christ would suffer, die, and rise again to take his place as the Great High Priest. The fulfillment of this covenant is Christ – our anchor.

And if we have this sure and steadfast anchor for our soul, we can step away from all the striving toward perfection and submit ourselves to a Father who cares more about our heart than our appearance.

Heart Over Appearance - Aliso Nelson - Strength Collective - Tales of a Peanut

Self-care is a topic growing in popularity, for good reason, but if we aren’t careful in how we think through and act on it, we will fail to look any different from those who reject Christ. Our assurance of salvation and our identity as dearly beloved children removes any need to be everything to everybody in order to have earned our rest. Rest, whether it comes now or at the end of all things, is given because God is good. And we are instructed to take daily moments to remind ourselves of that goodness – and His worthiness of our trust and worship.

In future posts, we’ll continue to flesh out what self-care really is and through this new understanding, we’ll devise strategies for taking consistent time to practice trusting the Lord to enable us to keep going.

 

Right now, I want to give you a first step. In my next post I will talk about the necessity of keeping our brain on so we can see the posture of our hearts and the attitude of our self-talk.

 

To get ready for it I want you to think about this question and comment below:

What do you do when you experience sudden hunger? What happens in your body and what’s your fallback behavior?

 

As we begin this journey together toward more effective self-care, I invite you to post pictures on Instagram of your personal pursuit of trusting God and fighting against the pull to be everything to everyone. Use the hashtag #everydaystrength (a phrase we’ll dive into next time) so we can see too!