About the Episode
At first glance, it might be able to lump self-care, soul-care, and Sabbath all into the same category: something that helps a mom not burn out. But, they actually all serve a different purpose and all are necessary to a well-balanced life. Listen in.
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📍 You’re listening to episode 16 of the Simply Sabbath podcast.
Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. If you feel like you’re about to break from exhaustion. Let me invite you to Simply Sabbath, a podcast for the burnt-out Christian mom, who longs to get back to the core of who she is and to reclaim the deep joy and stabilizing peace Jesus has for her in her every day– without the mom guilt that often accompanies self-care practices.
Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach and I help busy moms just like you add a simple rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. So they can experience a refueling that gives them exactly what they need to live the life that God has called them to. I’m so glad you’ve joined me today. Let’s get to it.
There was a time in my life when I was neither practicing self care or soul care or Sabbath. And that’s about the time when everything came to a sudden crash and I burnt out. I was exhausted beyond belief and that exhaustion gave way to bitterness and anger, irritability.
I’m not proud of the way that I behaved during that time, but I am kind to myself about it. I give myself grace. I acknowledge the fact that I was not at the top of my game. In fact, I was nowhere near the game. I was completely off in another field throwing a tantrum.
I was very fragile during that time and everything seemed to set me off. And the refrain that I kept saying was I just want to get away. I just want to get away. I just want to go take a vacation. I just want to be for myself.
I am not an introverted person. I’m very much extroverted. And so this desire to just be alone, even away from my husband and my kids who I love dearly almost came as a shock to me. I didn’t want to get alone to be the, with the Lord. I didn’t want to get alone to be able to think. I wanted to be alone to escape. Because the demands of life just felt so heavy.
I didn’t want to escape permanently, that was not it by any means, but I just wanted a break from it all. A break from the demand on me constantly from other people, the demand on me physically from little hands that touched me constantly needing something from me. I just wanted a break.
I was rushing through my days and I was so exhausted that I was barely taking care of myself physically. I definitely was not eating well. I was defaulting to convenience. So eating out a lot, eating packaged goods, and I knew that it was not good for my body. I have a wheat sensitivity. My body does not process it well, but because it’s a sensitivity and not an allergy such as celiac’s, I could dismiss it a little bit easier, I think.
And so I wasn’t taking care of my body physically. I’d occasionally go get my hair cut after months of letting it go. I would occasionally get a pedicure and manicure for special occasions, like my birthday or my anniversary. I began to look forward to my anniversary, not because I got to spend time with my husband, but because I was going to get a massage. I was sitting at the computer a lot, which meant that I was hunched over and my shoulders, which I’ve always had a problem with began to hurt even more.
I am still paying for those moments of neglect eight years later, but at the time it felt like everyone else needed to be the most important priority. Now, I see that because I was being depleted so much emotionally and physically in the days of new motherhood, the way that I was wired was not being met. I am a creator. I love to create things. I love to plan them out. I love to execute them. I love to see them come to fruition. But when you’re a new mom, there’s less creating and more just maintaining. And there’s nothing wrong about that. It is a stage of life, but the advice I was getting at the time, the advice I was getting from the moms who had gone before me, was just hang in there. You’re in the trenches.
And I know it came from a very well intended place, but to be honest, it was very unhelpful because all that did for me was make me feel like it was never going to end. In the trenches sounded horrible. It was not a place I wanted to be. And the idea of just surviving motherhood just felt helpless and hopeless.
For somebody who had gone to college with big dreams of being a writer and publishing novels and all of the things, I suddenly found myself so far from that dream with no promise that it would return.
And in that exhaustion, in that burnout, I became resentful. I started making comments and thankfully my husband picked up on what I was saying and was wise enough to suggest a Saturday morning writing session.
And I’m really glad that my husband gave me that day and yes, he gave it to me because I was not giving it to myself. I would not give myself permission to ask for a day, even just for a few hours to go uninterrupted, to Panera, to sit there and write a story. A piece of fiction that had no promise of being productive. It had no promise of being published. It had no promise of ever being read. The only promise was that I got to write it. It seemed like a frivolous thing and it seemed irresponsible. It seemed like something that a mom should not want to do. Go be away from her kids and, and write the story. But everything in me wanted to do it.
And thankfully my husband gave me the opportunity to do it. He kind of forced me, kind of kicked me out of the house and said, go write. You need to write. Thankfully, he was wise enough to recognize that that I needed to practice soul care. I truly believe that’s what that time was. It wasn’t a self care practice, it was a soul care practice. It was an acknowledgement of my unique design and my unique need to create. And an acknowledgement of my unique way of connecting with God. When I operated in my design, in the way that God designed me, I felt refueled.
I felt refreshed. I felt more like myself and I felt more alive.
Looking back on it now, I can see that that was soul care because it was something more than just taking care of my body physically. It was really tending to my soul.
And so, I wanted to talk today a little bit about the differences between self care, soul care and Sabbath.
We’ve already talked a little bit about soul care about that idea of tending to the way that you are uniquely designed, you are uniquely fashioned. The way that you need to connect with God and with others. The way that you process the world, the way that you engage with it. You need that time, whatever it may look like.
God does not call us to operate out of a void. He calls us to operate within our unique design and giftings. And when we don’t do that, even in the well-intentioned space of motherhood, when we work against the way we designed, it puts stress on us.
I think a really basic example of this could be using a fork to try to cut something. Sure, you can do it. You have to push hard on it. You have to put some wear and tear on it to make it work like a knife. It can happen, it just is not very natural.
It’s very important that you make sure that you give time in your week, however, it may lay out, if it’s part of your work week or if it’s part of your Sabbath. And actually, I probably would suggest that be in both, I would suggest that your work utilize your giftings and your strengths and the way that you were designed. But I would also suggest that you rest with God in those too.
I approached those writing sessions as work because I had a desire to be published, to make it my job eventually, but looking back on it now, I see that it was actually more play. I would go to Panera. I would get my favorite drink. I would sit down at the table in my favorite spot in the restaurant. And I would open up my computer and put in some headphones and I would listen to music and I write the story. And I just got to play in that moment.
Soul-care is just as important self-care.
So let’s define those things. Let’s define self care, soul care, and Sabbath. Self care, I would say, is more about caring for your physical self is often we often equate it to practices like taking a shower, taking a nap. Going and getting your nails done or your hair taken care of just those physical every day, sometimes weekly or monthly rituals that take care of our bodies that tend to our bodies. Exercising, eating right, having a great skincare routine. Those are self-care practices.
Soul care practices are the ways in which we connect to God and to others that speak to our unique design. That speak to the way that God has wired us, the way that he has gifted us. Whatever it is that you need to do to reconnect with God and others in the way that you are designed, you need to do it. Soul care is just as important as self care.
So how does that differ from Sabbath? Well, personally, I think Sabbath is a space in which we do those soul care and self care practices.
Now let me be clear. I think you need to be caring for your body every day of the week. I think that self-care practices actually fall outside of the workweek and outside of Sabbath. They are things you have to do. It’s a responsibility to your body. If you do not care for your body, you will not be able to work and you will not be able to Sabbath.
Your body has to be tended to. You need to take a shower frequently. You need to eat three healthy meals. You need to sleep for more than two hours a night. And yes, I am preaching to myself right now. I am not the best at this. I will be a hundred percent honest with you. I often neglect taking a shower. It seems so inconvenient. I blame it on my curly hair. But I have realized that I can buy a shower cap and I do not have to wash my hair every single time. And so I am trying to be better about taking a shower more frequently.
I will sacrifice sleep to get things done and it’s not good because guess what? I am not wired that way I can not survive on very little sleep. I get very cranky. I’m not very enjoyable to be around when I don’t sleep. I need to go to sleep.
And I also, I have a tendency to not want to spend money on myself. And so I let my clothes wear out to the very last minute. I will let things wear out to the point where you’re like, Hmm, you can’t even donate that to Goodwill, it needs to go in the garbage can. Yeah, that’s me. I’m trying to be better about it. I’m trying to allocate money in our budget and time to go shopping. Shopping to me is work though. I know for some of you it’s play and you would love to do that on your Sabbath. I loathe shopping.
But, my point here as a joke about it. My point here is that you do have a responsibility. It is not frivolous. It is not, it is not selfish to need to take care of your body. I think we need to stop making showers and sleep and healthy meals a luxury and make them commonplace in our everyday. They should not be the thing that we’re longing for on Sabbath. They should be part of our everyday routine.
Sabbath and our day off or a day, or our day of rest is about allowing space to enjoy what you’ve cultivated the week before. And when we remember that that’s the point of Sabbath is to enjoy, to play, to engage with God and with each other, I think that we start to treat Sabbath less as recovery time and more as a little bit of recovery, vacation, and hoping for the future. When we take time to Sabbath, we take time to rest our bodies, to rest our minds to rest our soul. But then it engages a part of us that knows that God wants to dwell with us, to be with us and there is a reminder of what was intended in the garden and a reminder that one day it will come again.
And there’s just something really beautiful in that hope that comes along with it. That hope that God is not finished with us. That hope that he is restoring and making all things new. And he is returning the garden kingdom to its beautiful, not just former glory, but a glory that is beyond even that. How exciting it is that we get to dwell with him intimately in that garden.
And so Sabbath reminds us of purpose of belonging, of identity. Sabbath is more than just caring first holes and tending to our bodies, it is life-giving because it reminds us of the life we’ve been given.
I want you to hear me clearly, what am not saying is that Sabbath is better than soul care practices. Or that Sabbath is better than self-care practices. What I am trying to say to you is that they all three work together. That we have to care for our body. That we have to tend to our soul. And that we have to rest with God in Sabbath.
Sabbath gives us space to do those things, specifically the soul-tending one, but we need all three. The physical, the emotional, mental, and spiritual, they all work together with a holistic way of moving through life.
As I mentioned at the top of the episode I am still dealing with the consequences of making poor choices for self care eight years ago. I am working on dealing with my body gently and moving it and nourishing it. And so for me, that looks like making sure I eat three healthy meals a day and making sure that I’m at least walking once a day for a little bit.
Um, there’s other things, other self-care things too that I have in play, but those are the big ones that I am focusing on. The ones that I know I have the hardest time with and the ones that I really need to pay attention to right now.
Um, just to give you a small one, I need to put lotion on my elbows everyday. My elbows get very dry and it’s such a little thing, isn’t it? Just put lotion on your elbows everyday. And yet I totally neglect it because it seems like such, such a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but neglecting that over the years have made my elbows very dry and so I’m just making sure I do that every day now. Such a little thing, but it makes a world of difference. And so that’s, I just want to share that in case there’s something that you’re like, oh, this is such a little thing to focus on, but I need to do it. And so there might be something big, like healthy meals and walking, or it might be something very little like lotion on your elbows.
Tending to my soul right now looks like reading. I love a good story. Over the years, I’ve gotten out of that practice, out of that rhythm of reading poetry and fiction and not I’ve. I focused a lot on non-fiction the last few years, and I just feel like I’m missing something in that. That love for storytelling, that is so ingrained in me, one of the ways that I’m tending to that is to make sure that I read fiction just 10 minutes every day. And so maybe it’s something simple like that for you.
And so maybe for you, it’s something as simple as tending to plants that are in your house, that you connect with nature in that way you, you care, you like to nurture, you like to grow. Maybe that’s how God has wired you and you need to have a house full of plants, um, that you care for. It can be that simple. It is not an earth shattering thing.
For Sabbath: we mark off a day and we engage in Sabbath and we make sure that we structure Sabbath in a way that gives us space that reminds us of our purpose of our identity and of our belonging. And so, right now that looks like our Sabbath meal, that looks like playing games with each other or going on an adventure together, exploring new areas of our new hometown, or even just quiet moments of journaling and reflection. We do a devotion together and we go to church together during our Sabbath.
All things, remind us of the bigger promise that one day God will restore and redeem and make right the world.
I hope this was helpful. I hope this gave you a little bit better insight into the holistic ways that we need to care for ourselves.
And so I leave you with this question: which of these areas do you struggle with the most? Now it might be all three areas. You might be just at the beginning of recognizing the need to care for yourself. And that’s okay. Don’t feel like you need to change every little thing right now.
I would encourage you to ask yourself, which of these areas do I struggle with the most: self care, soul care, or Sabbath? And then I would encourage you to ask God to give you the wisdom, to know how to start engaging in a small way in whatever area you struggle with the most.
I’ll see you next time.
Hey, I just want to say thank you for joining me for today’s conversation. I know many things demand your attention. I don’t take lightly the privilege it is to share your time. I want to make things as easy and simple for you. So I’ve linked to all the resources mentioned in the episode in the show notes, and you can always find the link and more helpful information on my website, www.rachelfahrenbach.com.
As we say our goodbyes, let me remind you that what we’re talking about in this podcast is not just another thing to add to your to-do list. This is not another expectation for you to live up to. It is a gift out stretched from the hand of your creator. An invitation to press pause on walking alongside Jesus in all the things He’s called you to do. And instead the down, across from Him and just be with Him.
It is an invitation to Simply Sabbath.
A few of my favorite self-care items and books:
Candles (one for work, one for rest)
Dr Teal’s Eucalyptus Epsom Salt & Foaming Bath Oil
Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson
A few of my favorite soul-care items and resources:
Rest & Reflect: A 12-Week Guided Sabbath Journal by Rachel Fahrenbach- A Space for Conversations with Your Creator about Identity, Purpose, & Belonging
The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman
The Next Right Thing Podcast
Soul-care for Writers:
Hope*Writers Membership Community
A few of my favorite Sabbath items and resources:
To use as a devotional during your Sabbath:
Foundations: 12 Biblical Truths to Build a Family
A reminder that we are living in a culture that embraces hurry:
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
A beautiful collection of poems:
This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry
If you use candles during your family meal during Sabbath:
Hand Carved Bethlehem Olive Wood Pair of Candlesticks Candle Holders
wheAsk yourself: Do I struggle most with self-care, soul-care, or Sabbath?
Then, ask God for wisdom in how you might make a small change in the area you struggle most.
Want to practice Sabbath but don’t know where to start? Grab this free guide: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help busy moms add a simple, rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. If that sounds like something you want for your week, but don’t know where to start, grab this free how-to resource: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath.