The Divine Art of Self-Love: How Taking Care of Yourself Is a Christian Virtue

It had been a tumultuous week—by the time Friday arrived, my email was a buzzing hive of unanswered queries, my refrigerator seemed like a barren wasteland, and my stress levels were sky-high. To add insult to injury, an encounter with a less-than-friendly individual earlier that week had left me second-guessing my tendency to turn the other cheek. Why did choosing the path of meekness make me feel so defeated?

Hoping to find some solace, I decided to begin my weekend with a calming audiobook from mindfulness guru Thich Nhat Hanh. But it seemed even the universe was against my self-care plans—the book was not available in my region. To cap it off, just when I was stewing over this disappointment, a flurry of work-related messages disrupted my peace. By 10:15 pm, I had surrendered my quest for self-care. It just seemed too arduous.

More Than Just Bubble Baths and Aromatherapy

We often think that self-care is just a spa day away. From yoga studios at every corner to an ever-growing library of self-help books, finding resources for self-improvement is easier than ever. But somehow, actual self-care seems to be more elusive. Smartphones and constant connectivity pull us in a thousand different directions, often away from taking care of our most significant commitment: ourselves.

We resort to quick fixes—a warm bath, a glass of wine, a binge-watching session—and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with these short-term stress-busters, they can’t replace the inner work of truly taking care of ourselves. That’s because true self-care starts with a seemingly simple, yet profound belief: that you are worthy of care to begin with.

Loving Yourself: Not a Contradiction to Christian Values

In the Christian context, self-love often gets mischaracterized as selfish or indulgent. The Scripture calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but what we sometimes forget is that we must also value ourselves enough to set healthy boundaries and say ‘no’ when needed.

As I reflected on that taxing Friday night, I realized that my inability to assert myself set boundaries, and claim space for my well-being stemmed from a core issue—I didn’t love myself enough to deem myself worthy of these things.

Nurturing Yourself to Nurture Others: A Christ-Led Life

Being a devout Christian doesn’t require you to become a martyr for your own well-being. Here are five ways to infuse self-compassion into your life, honoring not just your own spirit but also Christ’s teachings:

  1. Prioritize Joy and Rest: Understand that taking time for activities that nourish your soul isn’t frivolous—it’s a form of divine self-respect.
  2. Choose Self-Compassion: In a world that often demands more, be intentional about choosing self-compassion, even when you falter.
  3. Balance Service and Well-being: Remember that you can serve others more effectively when you are not running on empty. Service to others and self-compassion can, and should, co-exist.
  4. Cultivate Community: It’s easy to isolate ourselves, especially during difficult times. But there’s strength in fellowship, in forming connections where you can be honest about your needs and your flaws.
  5. Grace Over Perfection: Release the burdens of perfectionism and endless responsibility. Remember the words of Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

In conclusion, perhaps the best way we can serve God and others is by first taking the time to serve ourselves. By loving ourselves, we are better equipped to love our neighbors, fulfilling not just our earthly roles but also our divine responsibilities.