by Sherma Webbe Clarke | @sdwc8181
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2 NKJV).
I celebrated a birthday recently. The blinding light from my birthday cake evidenced in a humbling way the fact that I’m getting older. I figure I probably should get used to demonstrating wisdom, because older people are expected to be wise, aren’t they? It’s going to take some time to perfect this wisdom thing, but I can pick up from my previous devotional post as a warm up.
Wisdom doesn’t come from wishing on birthday candles nor does self-care. Over the years, I have learned self-care requires effort. I must decide to act if I want to overcome feeling overwhelmed. These reminders of ways to practice self-care are excellent birthday gifts.
1. Count your blessings.When we’re too busy and overwhelmed, we forget to give thanks for our blessings. Jobs, parenting, responsibilities at church, housework, or furthering our education all clamor for our attention. Shifting the paradigm helps me see these same things as blessings. A demanding job provides support for the family. Diligence in housework creates a pleasing, hospitable atmosphere. But my attitude toward deadlines and responsibilities can bear witness to God’s power to give me peace in the midst of life’s turmoil.
2. Slow Down.It sounds like an oxymoron: “I have so much to do, and you’re telling me to slow down?” Recharge. Breath. How much is really going to get done in the 15-20 minutes you take to have a nap, do some stretching, or watch a bird frolic in a puddle?
3. Take a walk.Short. Long. Power. Stroll. Stretch your legs while giving your brain a break from worry or to-do lists.
4. Play.Didn’t it feel great to play when you were a kid? Play hasn’t changed; we did. If you have children, they’ll be glad to help you rediscover your childhood, even for a few minutes. An energetic dog with a tug toy or ball works well, too.
5. Write it down.There’s something therapeutic about writing down one’s feelings. I’ve kept journals for as long as I remember. Mostly, they contain conversations between God and me, lists of blessings, reflections, and occasionally a poem or two.
6. Count to 10.Before impulsively agreeing to do something that you know you don’t have time to do—or do as well as you’d like—count to ten and think about a few things. How would saying ‘yes’ impact my to-do list? Is there anyone else who could complete this task instead of me? Can the deadline be altered to give me more time to accomplish it? Do I need more information before making a decision?
Practicing self-care means looking after yourself and recognizing that your needs are important. It’s not a new concept. Jesus gave an example of self-care in Luke 4. He separated himself from the people and went to a deserted place (verse 42). Later, when the people found him, he had been refreshed to meet their needs.
Jesus also defended the need for self-care. Martha criticized Mary for neglecting her household duties, but Jesus gently pointed out that Mary’s desire for spiritual refreshment was “needed” and “good” (Luke 10:38-42 NKJV). Let’s promise to do what’s good and needed so we can enjoy the healthy lives that God wants for us.
What advice would you give your younger self about managing time when life gets busy? Is there a special scripture text that puts you at Jesus’ feet when you need to feel peace?
Sherma Webbe Clarke is a contemporary fiction writer and a 2017 ACFW First Impressions Finalist. Her inspirational writing has been included in Christian devotional books: Grace Notes and Blessed. She loves to take her husband by the hand to explore nearby and far-flung areas of the globe. This wanderlust has its perks. She credits many of her story ideas to these adventures. Quiet, early-morning walks along the railroad trails on her home island of Bermuda provide inspiration when she is homebound.