Treat Yo Self

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by Erica Choi

One of the best comedies that Patrick and I have binge-watched is Parks and Recreation. On the show, Donna and Tom name one day of each year as, “Treat Yo Self Day”. It’s a day when all bets are off when it comes to getting and doing things for themselves. Whether it’s buying new clothes or fine leather goods, spending money at the spa, or getting bottomless mimosas, their mantra on this day is simply, “Treat Yo Self”; and they treat themselves lavishly. It’s hilarious and fun. Sometimes the same phrase crosses my mind when I decide to grab four donut holes instead of three on my way into church.

But strangely, a lot of us associate this kind of frivolous behavior and thinking with something that I’ve found to actually be vastly important as a parent: self-care.

Self-care is often seen as this selfish, luxurious spoiling of ourselves by satisfying whatever cravings we want. We picture ourselves with cucumbers over our eyes as we get a massage, or doing yoga on a retreat in the mountains – and we could sigh wistfully over these kinds of thoughts all day long – but the self-care that I found myself needing after becoming a mother ran so much deeper.

My soul was in need of care. We now had this tiny human who needed us every moment of her life, and I was surprised by how instantly my cares, my thoughts, and all of my energy started pouring into her. This is obviously not a bad thing! This is caring for a child, and it’s the greatest honor and responsibility in the world. But it didn’t take long for me to feel pangs of loneliness and an exhaustion that went far beyond just the physical. I was pouring into her without having any nourishment for my own life and that could only last for so long.

Whether you’re a new parent like me, or someone with years and years of experience, we all know the feeling of caring abundantly for someone else. Allow me to share three reasons why it’s important to know the feeling of caring abundantly for yourself as well.

Reason One: God Cares For You

Just because you now have a son or daughter doesn’t mean you ever stop being a son or daughter of God. Let your first act of self-care be sitting in his presence just as you are. You will never feel more nourished than when you’re allowing the One who knows all your needs to fill you with his joy. Let these words resonate with you:

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Care for yourself by allowing God to show his care for you.

Reason Two: Jesus Called Us To Care For Ourselves

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How often do we read that and feel convicted about how we treat others? But there are two different people receiving love in this command: your neighbor and yourself. It doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor and belittle, neglect, or forget yourself.” Jesus calls us to love and value ourselves and then to care for others in the same way.

Reason Three: Even Jesus Demonstrated Self-Care

Because He humbled Himself by coming in human flesh, Jesus had need for self-care. He pulled away to spend time alone with the Father and recharge. He surrounded Himself with friends who did life with Him and encouraged Him. He had to stop to sleep, eat, drink, and pray. He knew that in order to be effective He had to meet certain human needs first. If Jesus needed self-care, we are not above needing it either.

So, what does this look like in real life? The answer will be different for everyone. For me, it has looked like asking my husband or in-laws for a few hours at a time to go to a coffee shop so I can read or spend time with the Lord. It looked like joining a women’s soccer league; returning to a sport that once gave me deep friendships and a lot of happiness. It meant finding a counselor to work through emotions and experiences for which I desired spiritual insight. (I had put this off for years. It wasn’t until I felt the deepest need for self-care I had ever felt that I finally pursued it. And it’s been such a source of healing and sitting in truth!)

What are the things that draw you closer to Jesus? What are some of your God-created talents, passions, or desires that you could pursue? Who are people you could surround yourself with that will lift you up, and come alongside you, in caring for yourself? What is one thing you could do to love yourself as you love your neighbor, your children, and your spouse?

My encouragement to you is to “Treat Yo Self” in some rich, God-glorifying, and loving ways. Try it and you’ll see that you are a beloved child of the Father!

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