Is selfcare the same thing as spending time with God?
Not necessarily is the short answer.
Another way to phrase this question is: Is selfcare the same thing as practicing Christian disciplines (ie: prayer, fasting, meditation, fellowship with believers, etc.)? Again, the short answer is not necessarily.
One of the best ways we can take care of ourselves is to allow God to take care of us. I have no doubt about it. To be in the arms of our Father is to be in an indescribable peace and overwhelming hope. Stress, worries, troubles…everything melts away because nothing compares to the presence of the Holy One. And practicing Christian disciplines is how we can enter those loving arms and spend time with God.
In that regard, spending time with God is like selfcare, or maybe the ultimate kind of selfcare, but it’s not the only way we can practice selfcare.
Let’s talk about grace for a second. It seems like a tangent, but stay with me.
I’m an ex-perfectionist goody-two-shoes. I grew up needing to do the right thing at the expense of myself because I felt like messing up would mean losing the love of people I loved. That revelation is in hindsight of course, after years of striving so hard for perfection in everything I did, including being good.
It wasn’t until I found myself deep in a lot of mess that I started to understand grace, this wonderful gift God gives us not because we deserve it, but because He loves us and wants to give it to us. Grace. It’s a beautiful thing where God loves us while we’re in the thick of it. It’s when God loves us before we get things right. It’s when God doesn’t wait for us to reach perfection before bestowing us with forgiveness and favor.
We’re going to drop the ball at one point or another in every area of life, including spiritually. When I only thought of selfcare as spending time with God, and then missed or skipped days of spending time with God, selfcare went out the window because I also failed to live in His grace. Just imagine a neurotic perfectionist goody-two-shoes freaking out that God would smite her with a lightning bolt because she didn’t “read [her] Bible, pray everyday” while also believing she deserved the smiting. That was me.
There came a point when – and I don’t know when it came – spending time with God turned into an item on my to-do list. On one hand, they’re not called Christian disciplines for nothing. They do require discipline because “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). On the other hand,
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10, NIV).
Paul reminds us that everything we accomplish is because of the grace of God. Success in the practice of Christian disciplines is not by our own efforts, but because of the grace of God. I punished myself for my failures when all God wanted me to do was get back up and keep trying, by His grace and His strength (Philippians 4:13).
Grace is part of faith.
When we mess up spiritually or with the practice of Christian disciplines, we need to remember that God gives us grace and is Grace. We need to live out our faith in His grace, especially since it is by His grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8).
Part of practicing selfcare is putting our care in the hands of the Almighty and this means spending time with God. But don’t let the practice of Christian disciplines become a source of stress by forgetting to practice them in the light of grace.