Friday, August 22, 2014

Something to Ponder

For a few weeks in August five ladies from my church got together with me to make art and listen to my ideas about being creative, our faith and identity in Christ, and self-care. It was fun introducing some of these ladies to art journaling. It was also a good exercise for me and testing my teaching voice. I have taught on various topics for different events at church, mainly in regards to Bible Study or mission, and I have used my voice here on this blog. But I have had a nudge in my heart and spirit to explore using my voice in other ways regarding faith and art. What I discovered over these weeks is that I have way too much inside me and it really needs more time to develop into something cohesive. But this time with these ladies also sparked some different creative ideas which I will share here on my blog in the months ahead as well as through some other projects I am going to be a part of in the near future.

In prep for our last get together to talk about self-care, I read a passage that is very familiar to me, and probably to many of you, but this time reading it brought to mind some different questions. Let me share:

The passage: "Jesus replied, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two verses." Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus had just been asked by one of the Pharisees in verse 36 which commandment is the greatest. The verse above give His answer. Not one, but two commandments are given as the greatest: loving God and loving your neighbor. Paul points to this last part, loving your neighbor, as a way of summing up all of the commandments in one (Romans 13:9) and as a way of fulfilling the entire Law (Galatians 5:14).

The part that brought about my questions was "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I think sometimes we view self-care as being selfish or self indulgent, but this verse makes an assumption: that you are already loving yourself in a manner that is healthy and good, and that out of that place you will love your neighbor/others in the same manner.To me loving yourself is about self-care. It's about taking care of yourself in ways that keep you healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually so that you can be your best for others. Jesus modeled this when he withdrew and sought solitude, rest and time for prayer. He even did this at the expense of not serving others needs. He taught it and modeled it to His disciples. He was so in tune with His Father and the Father's will that he was able to discern when it was time for self-care and when it was time for caring for others.

So ponder these questions with me:

  • How well are you doing at loving yourself?
  • If you are not putting self-care/love practices into place that are healthy, then how well are you really loving others?
  • Are you loving others out of something unhealthy? Such as co-dependency? Dysfunction? Facades? Trying to get your own needs met? Selfishness - to get something in return?
  • Do you know yourself and your limits well enough to know how to fill your energy tank in the areas I listed above?
  • Do you regularly take time to examine your emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health?
  • Do you regularly practice spiritual disciplines or habits that help shape you spiritually? Habits of rhythm such as rest, Sabbath, retreats that help energize you?
  • Or are you spiritually thirsty? Worn out? Running on empty or burned out?
These are just some of the questions this passage brought about for me. 
For me, self-care is a way of loving myself that is healthy, not selfish. In fact, Cloud and Townsend in their book "Boundaries" call self-care stewardship of the gifts God has given us. The end goal of self-care is what determines whether it is selfishness or stewardship: Am I doing this to make me better for God and others or just to make me better. The answer definitely requires soul searching and listening to God in prayer.

I encourage you to make self-care a priority. Pray through the questions above. You may even want to use this as a topic to explore for art journaling! I do quite often!

Earlier this week I got a surprise in the mail. Elissa, who I know through the Documented Life Project sent me an envelope full of "Happy Mail". Thanks Elissa! Here's a small sampling of what was in the envelope.

Last weekend I spent some time painting papers for one of the exercises our group did. I noticed I  reach for The circle templates, stencils and stamps a lot!

And a recent non-Documented Life art journal page. 

My Sabbath Day and art are big parts of self-care for me. What practices are significant to your self-care?


  1. Amen, Mary! I really loved this post! I love to serve and as an older parent and Children's Ministry Leader, I try to remember "self-care" daily. That being said, I do have to be careful and remember your thought...."Am I doing this to make me better for God and others or just to make me better. The answer definitely requires soul searching and listening to God in prayer." My study today was on the flesh and the Spirit and which are we walking in? Your thoughts on self-care being the stewardship of the gifts that God has given us really rings true in that.
    My art is definitely part of my self-care and sharing His love with others and as an older parent, eating right and staying in the gym is also my self-care that I keep this temple healthy and clean for His Spirit and my natural children and my spiritual children at church!
    Thank you so much for sharing this very poignant word for today! What a blessing you are!

    1. Thank you Felicia! I am really starting to connect more with the need to practice more self-care in the physical area. I appreciate all your comments. :)

  2. Thank you Mary for giving us something to ponder. You are my blessing today!

    1. Absolutely thrilled to be your blessing today, Brenda!

  3. Loved your happy mail and your pages! Self love is something I keep hearing frequently. God speaking?? Thanks for the journal prompts. Wish I were part of your ladies art group. You righteously rock, Mary Brack! Blessings to you...

    Job 33:14 - For God does speak--now one way, now another...