My best friend of 13 years plopped down on my bed without asking one night. It was her second year of being my roommate, and her eyes were wide with concern. “Hey Case, I’m a little busy right now…” I muttered, staring into the ceiling as I tried to figure out how to be five places in the next 24 hours. “I know,” she replied. “You always are. I’m really worried about you. You are stressed out constantly, you come home miserable every day, and you are trying to do more than one person should.” For a day or two, I was offended. Didn’t she know how important everything on my list was? Didn’t she see how much God needed me?
And then the ridiculousness of that last thought hit me.
Almost every committed Christian I know has struggled at some point with burnout, exhaustion, striving, and overcommitting. It’s a fine line between being Jesus’ hands and feet and trying to be a Savior ourselves. We believe we are just so needed! Oftentimes, we are doing good things, even if we’re miserable. The problem is that doing “good things” is never the same as doing the things we are called to and created for.
God calls us to tricky situations, uncomfortable moments, and places that are impossible without Him. What He doesn’t call us to do is everything. He made us each unique, reflecting a part of His heart and story. When we try to do everything, the hurry can cause us to rush past His purposes. It is absolutely imperative to our mission as Christians to sit still, to take care of ourselves, and to spend time letting ourselves be loved. If we spend every second pouring out, we will run ourselves dry. Most of us have at some point.
Is the urge to serve wrong or ungodly? It depends on where it comes from. Ask yourself: am I serving here because I know God has called me here, or am I serving here because I don’t trust Him to take care of things? God does not need you. He just wants you to join in His story.
This principle is so clearly illustrated in the life of Esther. She was born to serve, and her purpose was to be a queen. (We often see life as serving or being served, when it is always both with Jesus).
When the search for a new queen began, Esther was brought to the harem along with many other beautiful women. When we get into a situation like that, our inclination can often be to begin to strive, serve, and do the most to somehow impress God or our peers. Not Esther, though. Perhaps she knew that pushing herself to serve where she hadn’t been called was just that. Pushy.
Esther underwent an entire year of beauty treatments in order to go before the king. At no point does the Bible mention that she felt “super guilty” or “should have been serving the poor instead.” She didn’t have the mentality that she didn’t deserve the lavish preparations. She was fawned over, adored, and valued, and she was confident enough in who God made her to accept it with grace. If she’d believed she wasn’t worthy of that care, she would not have been the queen her people needed.
The confidence to sit still and receive for a year was perhaps Esther’s greatest strength. She knew she didn’t have to earn God’s favor or work for Him when she should be resting, learning, and listening. You can only love and value people to the extent you have allowed yourself to be loved and valued. How can you give something you aren’t receiving? This is a huge component of self-care. To allow yourself to be cared for. Taking time to be loved by your Father, your Friend, your Provider.
On Monday, tune back in for the rest of what Esther can teach us on self-care. Go ahead and subscribe in the box (computer: on the right side column, phone: underneath this post) to follow along with the journey!