As my husband Andrew and I were thinking about what we wanted to talk about on our retreats for our High School and Middle Schoolers, we kept thinking about how busy and tired and exhausted they seem to always be. We thought about what it might be like if our young people really believed that life was more than a checklist, more than being overwhelmed with everything they needed to do. Originally we called our Retreat, “Treat Yo Self,” because we really wanted them to know and understand that they are worth taking care of. That in life we go through with this yearning for the pursuit of happiness, yet to get there we put our heads down and get things done, and by the time we arrive we realize we forgot to look up and notice all the joys around us. We forgot to live!
Just recently, I had something happen to me that really burdened me – I was working over 60 hours a week, trying to be a good wife, a good youth pastor, a good mission director to our mission partners, I was trying to keep up with the house, and help my husband with all the cooking, and by the end of this it was November. I realized that I forgot to simply look up and notice that the leaves had changed, and that it was so beautiful outside. For someone who loves nature so much, I put my head down and just worked, checked things off my list, and I forgot to live in pursuit of what I thought would make me happy. I wondered if our young people and our parents feel this same way.
But as we began writing this lesson, we realized that we were still missing the mark on this self-care stuff. It was actually hard to figure out what self-care really is and what it isn’t. So our friend sent us an article called This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake. The article highlights how “true self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from, and realizing that eating cake, taking baths, getting your nails done, and playing video games are ways to enjoy life not escape from life.” The article continues by talking about self-care as something we do that may not even be glamorous, that self-care is a responsibility not “treating ourselves.” Self-care helps us to be our best selves in our everyday life, to be able to find joy in the grey. Self-care is not trying to avoid all of the burdens, but to figure out how to maneuver through the world where burdens and stress exist yet still looking up to enjoy life. It is recognizing that when we look up, new opportunities present themselves, especially people.
On the retreats, we expanded the conversation by talking about how God cares about our needs, because if we are not our best selves how can we truly give our all, how can we truly be an extension of love to others? When we forget to look up and take care of ourselves, we miss out on the lively colors, shapes, and people in our path. We read Psalm 107 because we really wanted our young people to know that they are enough and worthy of being cared for, and that this life has so much more to offer. We then listened to the Lauren Daigle song, “Look up Child,” as we entered into active ways we can take better care of ourselves.
To take care of our physical health:
To take care of our emotional health
15 minutes walking - 10 minutes group talking - 5 minutes to walk back
To take care of our spiritual health
Here are some great resources that can help you and your family talk about ways to find joy in your everyday lives, remember that self care is a responsibility, not just a special treat, and develop “habits of faith” that help keep you grounded and “looking up” in your daily lives.
TED Talk: Where Joy Hides and How to Find It
Article: This is What Self Care Really Means, Because it’s Not All Salt Baths and Chocolate Cake
Workbook: Habits of Faith – A guide to the four habits that are the foundation for spiritual self-care – daily prayer, weekly worship, monthly service and yearly giving.