This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura, with my sister-in-law, Emily, and today we want to invite all of you guys to check out our resources page. We talked about this a little bit on the last show, but essentially, on the resources page we have is a bunch of books, music, Bible study tools – I can’t think of anything else – [laughter] but there’s a lot of really cool stuff over there that Emily and I and the rest of the Risen Motherhood team has curated, all to help equip you in gospel-centered motherhood. Something that Emily and I say on the show a lot is we do not know everything, but we have learned a lot from wise people, authors, wise women in our lives, and people who’ve developed amazing products. We’ve learned a lot from them and we want to share those resources with you, to help equip you.
Because today’s show is all about self-care, maybe a piece of that puzzle for you will be reading a new book, or finding a way to set up some new tools in your quiet time. We thought that might be a nice piece to point you towards at risenmotherhood.com\resources. Or you can find that link all over our social media pages and very easily from the homebase of risenmotherhood.com. We encourage you to go over there and check that out.
Emily: As Laura said, we are talking about self-care. This is actually kind of a 2.0 episode for us because if you dig way deep into our archives, this was the second show we ever released. I literally don’t even know what we said. I am not encouraging you to listen to it, I am just saying that it’s there. [laughter] We’ve grown a lot since that time, but we wanted to just talk about this again because it is something that comes up over and over for us in motherhood. Us personally, and for all moms because we’re exhausted. [laughter] No matter how many children you have, you’re tired, and you’re like, “I don’t know how to function.” “I don’t know how to balance my need for basic things like sleep and mental processing time with all the things that my children and family need.”
Laura: I tend to be on the side of go, go, go. Never stopping, very little self-care, and living like I don’t have any limits. I know that that’s something that this year God has really been teaching me. I feel like he has just piled on many things where I’ve been forced to stop and say, “I need help. I can’t do this.” I am really thankful for that lesson, and I am excited to talk about it more today.
Emily: It’s been really interesting. Laura added a child this year, and I added our fifth child. I keep thinking that I am going to understand this balance a little bit better, but it’s still so hard. Every time I think there’s nothing left to give, there is more to give [laughter] and lay down for the sake of caring for others. But this time around too, I’ve also just been faced with my own limitations – like Laura said – in all of the fact that I cannot just go and do everything forever. I need to also rest in Christ. Sometimes I need practical things to help me serve and love others better. We’re going to try to talk about that a little bit today, and we totally get that it feels selfish to take time for yourself.
Laura: That’s one of the hardest pieces! I just feel so selfish whenever I do take time away because I see the to-do list, I see the needs of the family, my own needs that are outside of that self-care piece.
So, let’s walk through the gospel. We can find a nice balance in this because a lot of people can sway into two different ditches. With creation, we can see that God created Adam and Eve, and he provided everything that they needed. They had very purposeful work to do, they were to rule over creation, subdue the earth, bring order to the chaos, be fruitful and multiply. They had purpose and they had work that they were supposed to do. They also trusted God to care for them. They trusted him to provide everything that they needed. They didn’t need extra self-care and they didn’t need to carve away time for self-care.
God was there caring for them. He walked and talked with them. I like that you can look at creation and see how God has self-care in a way, where he took a day of rest. He took a break, and he doesn’t even need to. That’s just a really neat piece that we can see, rest is a gift from God. It reminds us that we are human, and that we serve a gracious and generous God that provides for all of our needs.
Emily: When we look at the fall, of course we see that Adam and Eve unfortunately were not fully satisfied in everything God created. They disobeyed him by trying to seek fulfillment outside of what he had provided, and when they did that, sin entered the world. Now, in a post-sin world, we know that our bodies get physically sick and worn down. Our bodies die; they lose energy and strength. Our minds cannot handle everything – we have mental health issues. There are things like anxiety, depression and chronic stress that impact all different types of people. We get overwhelmed easily, we are limited– just in general.
There are now a couple of camps that we can kind of fall into, or ditches, if you want to use that term. One is that we’re too tempted to think that we’re unlimited as God is unlimited. Like, “I am never going to take a break.” “I can always just forego more sleep.” “I don’t need reasonable refreshment or physical nourishment or healthy habits, community or spiritual disciplines. I can just do it all if I just try harder.” That is one area that we fall into.
Laura: The other side of the ditch, or camp that Emily was saying, we start to abuse the gift of rest and self-care. We can escape through it. We say like, “Oh, there’s just too much to do, I am so overwhelmed that God has asked me to take care of all these things.” Instead of going to Christ and relying on his strength, we basically just shut down. We start thinking, “I just need a little bit more sleep, TV, exercise, hobbies or time with my friends. I just want to be really comfortable in my life then I’ll be happier. If I can just find this extra piece, I am going to be happier instead of relying on Christ to be my strength.” We start running to all the wrong places.
Emily: But we know in redemption that Jesus has struck this balance perfectly, and in a way we should emulate. Instead of staying comfy in heaven with God, where he had all these things, he loved us so much that he came to earth. He lay down the pleasures of heaven for the sake of loving us and dwelling with us. He experienced all of these types of human stressors and discomforts that we experience.
But we also know that he took appropriate time to rest, to care for the needs that he had in a physical body – he ate food, slept, even when it seemed crazy to others. He took time away to be alone with God. He stopped and lingered over the teaching of scripture. He did skilled work (that we assume he enjoyed doing), and he lived in a community of people. Again, Jesus lived as a human, and he did take appropriate self-care.
But we also know there were times when he went without food. There were times when he stayed awake later than he probably felt like. He was probably tired because he needed to minister to others. There were times when he prayed when other people were sleeping. He allowed himself to be swarmed with these needy people when he probably just wanted to be alone. We also know that he lays down his will in every circumstance in order to do the Father’s will. That is an example for us.
Laura: Exactly. We know that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are now able to serve Christ and his purposes. That our lives are no longer our own, but we belong to God. We no longer need to look out for our own comforts, or act like we’re totally limitless and can do anything that we want. But instead, that we’re able to emulate the life and work of Jesus Christ – spreading the gospel, and having an opportunity to love others through it.
In this restoration piece, we can be reminded that we live in this tension, “the already, but not yet.” We want to be able to do these things and emulate the life of Christ. But at the same time, we’re living in these broken bodies that we were talking about in the fall. We have limits. We have true and real needs. In this tension, we can recognize that these needs are what makes us human, but they also remind us that we can take on this good gift from God for rest.
When we rest in Christ it’s really a state of our hearts. That’s the big piece at this point is that we can rest in the future hope of knowing that one day we will live with Christ. We also can know that we have the Holy Spirit. We have the promise of him today, and the ability to serve other people through power that is not our own. Something that has been really challenging to me in 1st Peter 3 – the whole idea of a gentle and quiet spirit. For me, as an extrovert, I used to feel like that meant I need to be really quiet, and to not laugh so loudly or things like that. But really, it’s speaking to the state of your heart. It’s about: Are you finding your peace, your rest, and your hope in God to sustain you and all that you need? Not in your God-given personality and changing it. But really it’s all about resting in the peace that God provides, and knowing that he’s your ultimate sustainer. He will get you through each day with the things that you need to get done. That he’s going to provide the rest that you do need.
Emily: Of course this applies differently, in many different situations. We all come from different backgrounds, and have different challenges and temptations. Like Laura was alluding to, sometimes our personality can cause us to bend one way or the other. Or maybe be again, too reliant on like, “I can’t give up this comfort” or, “I am going to go, go and I am never going to enjoy the good gift of physical rest that God gave.” We just wanted to share some principles we can remember and think about as we’re processing what we should do with self-care.
The first thing that we already mentioned, but we’re saying again, is weaknesses and limitations are part of our humanness. Rest is a good gift from God. I’ll just have to remember this – God does not rely on me to keep the entire world or my entire family running. [laughter] He is in control, and he owns everything and is able to supply any need. To think that it all relies upon me is a really wrong, warped view. [laughs]
Laura: Yes. Something that the Lord has really taught me this year, as I was sharing a little bit, of being pushed down to my knees and basically saying that I cannot do all of this, is when we recognize our limits and our humanness, that ultimately provides an opportunity for other people to help and to serve us. That is a gift. For the first time in my life I really saw like, “Oh, this is amazing to receive help.”
In the past I’d always felt so equipped for whatever the day-to-day brought. When I finally reached my limit and people were like, “Let me bring you meals,” or, “Let me just take your kids for a couple of hours,” I was finally like, “Yes! This is a huge gift. [laughter] Thank you so much.” It’s a gift to those people too who are serving. It’s a blessing for them to be able to help you. I know you guys are probably heard that before, but it is true.
Emily: Yes. Even for your husband, or your family members, your friends from church to come alongside you, it is a very difficult thing to receive help sometimes but it is a good gift from God. That’s why we live in community.
The second principle I just wanted to bring to the table is that we have to submit ourselves to Christ and know that a life following him is going to require sacrifice and make us uncomfortable. [laughs] It’s right there in scripture - I can’t remember the verse right off the top of my head. But it’s something about if you desire to follow Christ you will suffer [laughter].
Laura: It’s true. Even as moms, when kids wake up in the middle of the night, they’re puking in the car. That recently happened to me - a huge sickness hit the car. [laughter] We feel like we’re constantly running late because there are all these little needs that we’re having to take care of. I know that it can just feel like there’s constantly not only little things that are coming our way, there are also big trials that make our lives uncomfortable or difficult. But we also know, as Emily said, that as a believer, it’s a costly life. If you’re a mom, loving your children, passing along the gospel to them, doing ministry for others, it’s very costly. That might mean giving up temporal things for eternal gain. We don’t know what that exact balance is. Emily and I keep talking about this big pendulum swing that’s happening. We don’t know what that exact balance is for you, but that is why we want to know scripture and walk in the light of Christ.
Emily: The third thing we would just wanted to bring to the table again is that true rest and self-care is found in Christ alone. While there are physical and practical things we can do for ourselves which we absolutely should do, if we can. There was a time, again, after this transition with our fifth child, I was like, “Why do I feel so ragged?” A short examination of my life was like, “Well, these are really basic things you need to re-insert into hour life.” So do those things. But the reality is, no self-care time you’ve carved away, no Friday night out with your friends, no special date night, to special 24 hours to yourself, or a full night of sleep can really quench that part of you that needs rest, that is emotionally exhausted and stressed out. I feel like I am still learning this. It’s hard because you think like, “If I just get this thing, I am going to be rested.” But the only thing that fills that is Christ.
Laura: That’s exactly right. I know there are so many times where for naptime I am so looking forward to like, “Okay, I can just sit down.” Especially when I was pregnant, I was like, “Okay, the first half hour will be a nap. The second half hour will be TV and snack time. The third half hour I’ll maybe get some work done.”
I am living for the nap; I am so excited for the nap. I have it all mapped out, and then what happens? My four-year-old’s coming downstairs like ten times and my two-year-old decides to not nap that day or whatever that may be. That is where it’s like, “Okay Lord, all I have is you. I can only trust for you to be my sufficiency, not my naptime.” I know there’s a Gloria Furman quote that we put on Instagram a few times, I am kind of doing it from memory here, but she talks about, “Naps are well and good, but if I put my hope in that, it will fail me.” [laughter] That is essentially what’s happening here. Any time that we start to idolize that self-care, or that moment where we feel like, “I just have to get to bedtime.” “I just have to get to that play date and everything will be fine and I’ll feel so much better.” That is putting our hope on shifting sands, and we cannot count on anything other than Christ.
Emily: Again, consider your heart; everything goes back to that. We cannot look in from the outside and say, “Oh, you must be getting too much self-care. Looks like you’re going out with your friends a lot more than this other person is. You must be wrongly valuing that.” No, we cannot tell from the outside. It’s all a matter of the heart, and where you’re putting your hope and your trust.
A few questions to leave you guys with today is: What areas of life might you be failing to acknowledge your own limitations? Are you thinking that you can literally do everything without taking a break, saying no, or having a rest, and you’re just going to be able to keep going? Or are you willing to do less in some areas, and trust God that he has other ways of providing for those things?
Laura: On the flipside of that, a good question to ask yourself is: What areas are you using self-care time as a crutch, or really living for self-care? Are you avoiding responsibilities that God has given you as a mom? Are you trying to find some extra ways to squeeze it in where it doesn’t really fit? That’s where you can just pray. Ask God to strength you, and remember where your identity and your eternal reward is found in heaven.
Emily: Definitely get time in the Word of God. That’s going to be the most refreshing thing we can do is to just be connected to the truth of his Word. Remember always that God is unchanging.
We hope that we were able to give you guys a few things to chew on as you are processing through what self-care looks like. If you are sometimes exhausted and ran ragged [laughter] like Laura and I are, [laughs] and you’re wondering how do I experience true and lasting rest? There’s definitely some things to consider.
Laura: If you want to check out those resources that we talked about, maybe a great new book might be something that you can do for self-care. Head over to risenmotherhood.com. you’ll also find all the show notes there where we’ll post links and other things about this topic of self-care that we just discussed today on the show. Of course we’ll have more on social media. As always find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @risenmotherhood.com. That’s it, thanks guys.