Holding Space for Ourselves: Why Self-Care is Holy, not Selfish, Sinful, or Just for the Wealthy

It’s the second day of the new school year and I unexpectedly find myself with a clear calendar and a whole day to myself. Someone pinch me. Yesterday was hard and crazy busy; tomorrow will be the same. But today, today is my Sabbath.

The streets are still wet from an early morning rain. The breeze shakes scattered drops across our path as the dogs and I go for a leisurely walk. No rushing today, pups. You can stop and smell whatever you want. I’ll wait.

Back home, I make my favorite breakfast–egg sandwich with Asiago cheese, the only cheese that matters. I finish it off with blackberries fresh from the bushes in our yard, last fall’s clearance items from our local nursery. I eat this year’s entire crop—all 8 berries. They are delicious.

So many ways I could spend this day. I’ve got a slew of errands I could run. Laundry and house cleaning. The pups are smelling kinda wonky…

I think I’ll make soup. And read. And write.

I’ve missed you, dear reader.

I want to share with you what I’m learning. How things are going in our household with our two adopted teenage daughters. The challenges God’s giving us. The grace he scatters across our paths.

I’ve been focusing on self-care, those things that give me renewal for facing whatever He brings me for the day. Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Everyone-especially parents of adopted teens-needs to practice self-care for their own benefit. It’s not some perk for those who have the extra time and resources. It’s critical for our own overall health. What’s your stress level? How’s your blood pressure? Do you like what the scale says? How’d you sleep last night? How are you taking care of God’s masterpiece—yourself?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

  • Everyone needs to practice self-care for the benefit of their families. The second half of that verse you just read? The “good things he planned for us” to do? That means raising that teenager sitting across the table from you inhaling cereal.  Self-care mitigates stress. Stress is contagious. You’ve likely already got stressed out teenagers. If you’re stressed out too, then you’re just amping up the stress level in your entire household. We’ve all been there at one time or another. Let’s just stop going there.  It’s much easier to have patience for and give grace to your teenager when your rope has plenty of slack.
  • Self-care is not hard to find. We are a culture swimming in ideas for self-care. Google it and you’ll find 58.8 million results. Amazon offers over 90,000 items all marketed to help YOU relax and focus on YOU. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money or buy a lot of candles. What works for your sister might not work for you. I don’t want to soak in the tub because that means I’d have to clean it first. My self-care toolbox includes writing this blog, coffee dates, buying pretty stationary to send real letters to my West Coast friend, walking my dogs, and the occasional massage. (Disclaimer: I can give myself a manicure and dye my own hair—and I do. But I can’t give myself a massage. And when things start to get to be too much, I don’t hesitate to cash in those gift cards my family gives me.)

Think about what brings you pleasure and make space for it. Hold space for yourself.

  • Self-care is not sinful nor selfish. We have the best example in the first book of scripture. After God did such a bang-up job on creation, what did he do? He rested. And he called it holy.

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.  Genesis 2.3

Did God need a rest? No.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.  Psalms 121.3-4

If God doesn’t need to rest, then why did he? Is it possible he was modeling something he wanted us to know and do? Was he telling us that it’s OK to invest in ourselves and take care of ourselves?

Jesus also modeled self-care. What was he doing just before he calmed the waters in the Sea of Galilee? He was sleeping in the boat. Jesus was taking a nap! (Matthew 8:24, Mark 4:38). Why did Jesus go to the Garden of Gethsemane? To get away from everything and reconnect with the rest of the Trinity, the Father and Holy Spirit (Matthew 26:36-46).

So, if God practiced self-care, and his Son practiced self-care. Shouldn’t we practice self-care for ourselves and as an example to our own children?

Recently, my husband and daughters were discussing their most favorite place to be in the world. Siesta Key Beach topped the list, followed by Paris (where they’ve never been).

My response: On top of a massage table.

Self-care isn’t just what the doctor ordered. It’s what the Great Physician ordered.


What do you find that helps you maintain some level of self-care as you parent your teens?