The Sacred Balance: Taking Care Without Being Self-Centered

At the onset of the New Year, I found myself seeking refuge in the warm embrace of hot springs. The soothing waters and serene environment seemed just what I needed to start my year on a positive note. I overheard a woman say, “This should be required, for life,” referencing the luxurious experience of the springs. And while I initially felt uneasy about the entitlement of such a statement, it dawned on me: the essence of self-care is indeed vital.

The term “self-care” has gained immense popularity recently. Beyond the physical joys of a spa day, it encompasses the well-being of our spirit, soul, and body. This reminded me of the Biblical figures like David, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, who frequently sought solitude from the world to find peace and commune with God. Luke 5:16 tells us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” These moments of retreat had spiritual significance and were also a testament to the importance of rejuvenation.

However, the modern interpretation of self-care often intertwines with consumerism. A $565 cashmere sweater or an Instagram quote suggesting walking away from any discomfort is hardly the epitome of genuine self-care. The world today equates self-care with pampering oneself, but genuine self-care sometimes involves facing uncomfortable situations head-on or preparing for challenging conversations.

I’ve been on a journey, learning to set healthy boundaries, understanding that sometimes self-care is a tranquil bath, and other times it’s confronting harsh truths. The modern narrative around self-care often suggests an unhealthy prioritization of oneself over everything else. But true care does not end with oneself.

The Bible teaches the Golden Rule: loving ourselves and extending that same love to others. Charlotte Bronte once wrote, “Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” This rings true. While self-care is vital, so is nurturing our relationships. After all, neglecting others can often reflect back on our own self-worth.

Russ Harris in The Happiness Trap highlighted the significance of aligning our actions with our values for true contentment. Our values are not solely based on our feelings but are deep-seated beliefs rooted in our faith and understanding of life. Sometimes, pursuing my values means rejuvenating my body with a massage. Other times, it’s nurturing my spirit by attending church or being there for a friend in need.

A balanced approach to self-care enriches our mental well-being more than just momentarily ‘feeling good.’ The Bible encourages us to value ourselves and our neighbors equally. Thus, redefining self-care as part of a value system means that caring for oneself and others can coexist harmoniously.