Self-Care in the Scriptures

by Hilary Horn

This month our themes will be on health, wholeness and shalom.  Thank you, Britni D’Eliso, for kicking us off on health and wholeness! —

My daily mantra as a mental health therapist is “self-care, self-care, self-care.”

I spend the majority of my therapy sessions encouraging my clients to consider how creative they can get in developing a list of ways to care for their body, mind and spirit; whether it’s going on a walk, taking a bath, or simply remembering to take a breath. This is a priority as a therapeutic intervention, as a well cared-for self is better prepared to handle unforeseen stressors that pop up throughout the day and can better maneuver the intricacies of relating with others, despite their current state of health and well-being.

But of course, irony rears it’s often ugly head in the reality that I rarely heed my own advice.

As a mother of two littles who works a full-time job outside of the home, it can feel hopelessly impossible to create space for prioritizing myself and my health. I find myself often taking solace in consuming the blog and vlog vent-sessions of fellow working moms who provide and endless slough of the almost humorous misperceptions of “what moms do all day” and the copious amounts of unrealistic advice out there regarding how to incorporate a 30 minute exercise routine and scheduled list of chores into your daily agenda (ha!).

My go-to response is cynicism and sarcasm. But, surprise surprise, that doesn’t lend to a healthy pattern of self-care either!

My biggest obstacle is my tendency to thrive on to-do lists. For any personality-assessment nerds out there like myself, I am an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs and a “1” on the Enneagram. In other words, I like lists, and I’m very task-oriented. Although this can be very helpful in completing projects and maintaining a weekly meal plan, it can backfire a bit when I am needing to simply be at rest.

So for those of you in my camp of the personality spectrum, OR for those who are simply not satisfied with the status-quo of advice available these days… I have some advice for you. 🙂 But before you check out, roll your eyes, or build your argument of defense, hear me out.

This recommendation doesn’t come from my lived experience (in fact, I’m really just now starting to try it out myself). It comes from the One who created you and me. The One who understands how our minds and hearts are wired, what our body needs, and the way that rest and deep connection with self and others keeps us ticking.

It turns out that His Holy Scriptures not only consist of a beautiful story of humanity and His redemption, but they were delivered through the lens of human beings. And though those humans lived millennia ago, they likely still shared in the same emotions and off-balance priorities that we know all too well. However, their connection to the Divine allowed them to be privy to significant truths that still prove relevant today:

Moses relays God’s instruction in Exodus 20:8-10 — “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens an. d the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 

In other words, we are to do our work and do it well. AND THEN we are to set aside time, intentionally and proactively, to rest. This may requires upping your spontaneity, or if you’re like me, scheduling in a window of rest. This strategy is the very thing that allows me to write this blog: I take two-ish hours every Thursday morning (my day off) to escape to a coffee shop (my sanctuary) for some rest and time to write. This happens because my husband is a rockstar and because it’s in the calendar, so we know to work around it.

David identifies that rest is found in the presence of the Lord in Psalm 23 (and this message is reiterated throughout all of Psalms) — The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

We can garner inspiration even from the metaphors David uses, of a shepherd, green pastures, quiet waters, etc. David speaks to the rest found in companionship with our relational God, and hints at how that connection can be found in nature. Nature may have been a bit more accessible to David, while he was living in the wilderness, however we can get creative in 2017 too. Whether it’s taking the kids on a walk around the nearest park, going on a hike (I’ll admit I’m spoiled with hiking opportunities here in the Pacific NW), or sitting in the grass in your backyard. I’m not talking about a Robinson Crusoe adventure here, just creating opportunity to experience a tangible and meditative connection with this earth that God hand-crafted.

At this risk of getting preachy or of wagging my finger, I’m going to stop here and let you dig in to the relevant wisdom found in His Scriptures. Be pleasantly surprised at how God’s words are sensitive to our very human needs and how His personal and intimate nature is revealed in His devotion to our well-being, as His precious children.

See references below for your own study:

Philippians 4:4-9

Psalm 37

Isaiah 26:3-12


Britni D’Eliso is a quiet but fearless spirit who is earnestly seeking the beauty of the redemption that Jesus has personally determined for her life. Committed to the truth that listening breeds understanding and understanding results in compassion, she clings to the power of life’s stories. She has embarked on the venture of discovering her own story and lending an ear to the stories lived out in others and savors the trace of Jesus that is woven throughout them all. Currently, that journey has landed her in a balancing act between the role of wife, momma (to Shiloh & Eden), and a mental health therapist in Eugene, Oregon. 

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