Who taught you how a woman should take care of herself?
Did anyone teach you that a woman should take care of herself?
Whether it’s in watching the older women in our lives or how we’re brought up (what we’re told and asked to do) – the inherent message passed on is that women take care of others.
But what is unfortunately not as common is that a woman should take care of herself too.
There are those for whom the idea of a woman taking time for herself is a completely foreign notion because it’s one they’ve never heard from anyone or seen in action.
For some self-care is a treat not a necessity; a once in a while pat-on-the-back for hitting a particular milestone.
For others self-care is something done once you’re completely empty; like waiting for a car to stall in the middle of the road because it’s out of fuel before you fill it up again. And there are those who are running on empty and don’t even know it because they’re too busy driving to realize the car stopped moving a while back.
For a unique minority, there’s the understanding and appreciation that a woman can only fully live out her life when she is whole; and this journey of wholeness is a continual cycle of filling up as you simultaneously pour out.
Taking time for yourself should not be a guilty affair; one where you have to work yourself to death first in order to justify the need to take a break.
With the vast number of intense roles that most women play, it’s easy to get caught up being everything for everyone and forget you. I’ve seen instances where a woman puts down her head to get to work in one season and by the time she raises it many seasons later, she doesn’t even know who she is anymore.
God didn’t create womanhood to be an endless chore where we lose ourselves in the name of taking care of the whole world. Undoubtedly, there will be seasons in our lives that demand more from us than others. But I believe there’s grace for us to do what we need to get done and not end up in tatters in the process.
How do you work? Sometimes the issue is not the responsibilities we’re carrying but how we’re carrying them. It takes the wisdom of God to fulfill our divine mandate as women in the different spheres of our lives; this is all the more a necessity for women in leadership who have the additional weight of demands that come with it. It also helps to remember that the world already has a Saviour – His name is Jesus. Anything you’re called to do, however big or small, is predicated on the truth that the world is resting on His shoulders not yours. It’s not your job to save the world and everyone in it; that job is already taken. Yours is to steward the victory He has already won.
Work Check: Are you carrying work and ministry responsibilities well? The best work checker is the Holy Spirit. He can rein you in where discipline is required but also gently shoo kick you into rest and play when you need it. He constantly reminds me that for all the demands that may be there He is still in control so I have no business being frazzled by life. The world will not crash and burn because you gave yourself a time out to breathe.
How do you play? There’s a glorious distinction I once came across by Jenn Johnson who shared how play and rest are often collapsed and confused for the same thing. But they’re two different things that serve fundamentally different purposes. What are your interests and/or hobbies? What are the things you do for fun? That make your heart leap with joy with little to no effort?
Play Check: What’s a fun activity you can make part of your regular weekly schedule? This can involve friends/family but should primarily be something you enjoy (remember the whole point of this is to do something for you ;))
How do you rest? What does your complete down time look like? Where there’s little to no activity that allows your mind, heart, body and spirit to recharge and rejuvenate. This is beyond whatever hours of sleep you get every night. How do you unwind from the pressures of your day?
Rest Check: Where can you fit in a rest block in your weekdays and/or weekend that helps you decompress? Remember – quality versus quantity. And this is not the time you spend thinking about all the things you should be doing. Hit the off button on your brain for a change.
None of these things will matter if you don’t make time for them – for you – and adjust your life accordingly. What has practically done me wonders is to start by filling my calendar with rest and play for me and my family before I fill it with any other commitments. That way my/our rest and play is prioritized just like work and ministry is. And we’re so much better for it not to mention, the world has shockingly (ha!) continued to revolve.
Maybe your current season doesn’t allow you to take off for a week but you can get a few hours away – don’t dismiss what is readily available to you just because it doesn’t seem enough then wallow in how burned out you are; whatever time you have can make a difference when used right.
Making time for you also doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes we get so caught up with what we can’t afford financially that we lock ourselves out of the many fun and practical things that are readily within our reach with just a bit of creativity and intentionality.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help or to say no. You’d be surprised how many people in your life are willing to assist you and get things off your plate if you just ask – like literally just ask. And teach – teach people to do the things that are within their ability so you can do what only you can do. Saying no to what can wait or can be done by someone else allows you to say yes to what will be life-giving to you and what God has specifically assigned to you. Delegation is a life hack I tell you.
I know it’s often said that a woman needs to be whole so she can be wholly there for others. Yes, this is true. You can’t fill anyone’s tank when you’re running on empty. In fact, the title of this post was initially wholeness begets wholeness. But I think a woman firstly needs to be whole for herself. Because being there for others doesn’t negate being there for yourself. Your well-being matters first because you’re important – just as you. That it overflows to benefit others is a gracious outcome.
So be whole – and make your wholeness a priority – because you matter.