About the Episode
Hang on tight, I get a little fired up in this episode! I’m diving into the question moms often ask themselves when considering self-care, soul-care, and Sabbath practices: “am I being selfish?” Of course, I think the answer is a resounding “no, you’re not!” You’ll want to listen in today to hear why I believe this question is a lie and a distraction sent from the pits of hell. And I hope you’ll take to heart the lessons about self-care and soul-care we can see in Mark 6 with the feeding of the 5000.
Click for Transcript
You’re listening to episode 22 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 restful 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.
A few weeks ago, I posed a question to my Facebook page: how did you define the difference between self care and soul care? I posed the question because I had just finished recording the episode titled “self care, soul care and the Sabbath.” And I wanted to see how people’s answers, how close they would line up to what I had recorded. I wasn’t expecting what happened next. The response was almost immediate and passionate. I was not expecting you all to get so fired up about the question. Everyone had an opinion and then some opinions conflicted with other opinions, and it became quite the… not disrespectful or argumentative, but just a very passionate and heated conversation.
Thankfully, you guys are fabulous and wonderful. And you did not resort to name calling or any other ugliness that sometimes happens on the internet when we disagree with each other. You were very respectful of each other, but it did bring to light something that I had not realized I needed to talk about in that episode.
And so I recorded that episode. It was done. And then I actually came down with Covid right after it. And so I wanted to circle back to this conversation of the differences between self care, soul care and the Sabbath. And specifically about the question, is it selfish to practice self-care is there something holier about soul care?
I’m just going to lay all my cards on the table, right, right off the bat. I do not believe that self care is selfish, nor do I believe that soul care is inherently better or holier than self care.
I think scripture shows that both are needed and necessary. And I do not think that God is asking us to place one of a higher value than the other. And we’ll get into that a little bit more in a second. But, I wanted to address a couple things first.
I do think we lack a good way of talking about the real differences between caring for the physical self and tending to our souls. Our culture at large puts an emphasis on escapism and calls it ‘me time,’ positioning women in a difficult choice of choosing between themselves and others in order to not feel burnt out.
But our Western church culture doesn’t do much better. It emphasizes spiritual developement, bible study prayer, scripture, memorization, et cetera, and call it soul care, positioning women in a difficult choice of choosing between their very real physical needs and their spiritual needs.
I know this can be a really charged conversation because we might feel the tension of needing to recharge physically, but fearing the shame that might come from others if we state that quote unquote ‘selfish’ thought.
Or perhaps knowing you’ve lost yourself at some point after having kids and you don’t want to go back there and you know that focusing on things that you enjoy brought you out of that dark time.
Or perhaps you understand that you can become really resentful of your family when it feels like everyone needs everything from you. And you’ve become very aware of your need for time of Jesus to keep the bitterness at bay far more at, than you need an nap.
Or maybe you want to live motherhood in a way that reflects the character of Christ. And you’re trying to apply what you see in scripture to our everyday modern life.
These are all valid perspectives and can put us into a conversation that makes us uncomfortable, but we need to be having it because our culture and our churches have failed us.
God never intended for you to live a burnt-out life. And he didn’t create you for exhaustion.
You are not creative for exhaustion and yet it’s the one thing that pretty much every single mother has experienced. And the fact that such a large number of us feel burnt out is concerning. It’s something that we should take note of and realize is not from God, but it’s from the pits of hell.
It is an attack on our God-given design. I know I am not the only mother who thought she had to self-sacrifice to the point she didn’t recognize herself anymore. I know I’m not the only one. And I know that that’s not a way to live. I have heard too many mothers who got on the other side of raising kids at home and said, I need time now to figure out what I want to do. I’ve forgotten who I am. Too many mothers. And if that is our refrain, “I’ve lost myself. I don’t, I don’t even recognize who I’ve become. I don’t know who this person is anymore.” Don’t you think that that is exactly where Satan wants us? Forgetting our God-given design, forgetting our God-given purposes, forgetting our God-given uniqueness?
Of course, that’s where he wants us! He wants us so exhausted that we can’t do the things that God has called us to. He wants us forgetting who we are, who God designed us to be, and the purposes and dreams that he’s given us to further his kingdom. He wants us forgetting all those things, getting so caught up in our everyday lives that we settle for the exhaustion. We settle for that space of burnt out hopelessness.
Is it selfish to care for your physical needs? Is it selfish to want to do things that make your soul feel alive? Is it selfish to want to create, to experience, to enjoy?
The way I see it, it’s almost like we have three different components that as mothers, we need to pay attention to. There’s our physical needs, right? We need to take showers. We need to eat food. We need to make sure we’re getting good night’s sleep, right? There’s things we need to make sure we have clothes on our bodies and that are clean.
You know, there’s just some physical thing that we need to pay attention to that are good for us. We need to go get our hair cut and we need to, um, go to the doctor and get a check up, make sure that we’re doing okay. And you know, do some preventative care measures. There are things that we physically need to care for with our bodies.
And then there’s things that we need to do to take care of our spiritual walk with the Lord. We need to be studying scripture and prayerfully, engaging with God each day. That’s important. You know, prayer is an important and essential part of our lives. We need to be in communication with the Lord. We wouldn’t go a day without talking to our husbands. We definitely should not go a day without talking to God. It should be a part of our rhythm of life throughout the day, God longs for a relationship with us. And we need to engage in that relationship. It’s the privilege to engage in that relationship. We need to study scripture so that we can gain an understanding of who God is and what he expects from us so that we can walk in it. It’s important. We also need engage in moments of worship and adoration of God. And we also need to serve our neighbor and care for our neighbor. These are all good things, all important aspects of our spiritual walk.
And then there’s the third aspect, which is to engage our souls with the world around us in a way that speaks to our personalities, our gifting, our talents, our skillset, things that bring us joy because we’re operating in the way that God designed us to operate. These are simple things and they can feel like selfish things, things such as painting or writing, or playing the piano or reading a good book or watching a fun movie or, going for a walk or going for a swim or a run or whatever, uh, hiking in the forest.
These are all things that can feel selfish because they require us to set aside a time to do. And they’re not serving anybody else. You know, they might down the road. If you create a piece and publish it or whatnot, or maybe you paint something and you hang it up in your house and the rest of your family can enjoy. But typically these things are things that we engage with. Not because we expect them to make a difference in anybody else’s lives, but because we have this almost compulsion inside of us to do the thing.
And I think as mothers we’ll have learned to ignore that compulsion, that voice inside us that says, I need to write, I need to play the piano. I need to go walk in the forest. We’ve gotten really good at ignoring our unique design. In the name of motherhood, in the name of selflessness, in the name of caring for another human being.
And it makes me sad that there are women around the world who have accepted the lie that to operate in the way that God designed them, this beautiful, magnificent work of art that we are– his workmanship, right? This, this vessel, this fearfully and wonderfully made being… that we have accepted the lie that to operate in that wonderful and fearfully made design is to be selfish.
And it makes me mad that in our church culture, we have these sayings that there’s there’s holiness in the mundane of motherhood that there is these, um, think santification in changing diapers and it’s. It’s a lie. It’s a lie. You guys. Is there something to be learned in the self sacrificing that we do as mothers? Is there something that’s humbling and refining and growth in producing? Yes. Is it the same for our husbands? Yes. And yet we’re not saying to them that there’s holy in the mundane of fatherhood, but we say it to ourselves because we’ve accepted this lie that unless we are self sacrificing and self neglecting, we are not being good mothers. And that is a lie. There is nothing selfish in caring for our physical needs, our spiritual needs, and our soul’s needs.
There’s nothing wrong with operating in the design that God has given us. There is something wrong with neglecting it with shoving it aside, with quieting it, and not letting it be used for God’s glory and his kingdom. There is disobedience in that and there is poor stewardship.
Now I don’t share all that because I want you to feel bad about what you’ve been doing. Like the least the last thing that I want to happen. But I do want to encourage you to stop thinking of yourself in terms of am I being selfish or not? And start thinking in terms of, am I being obedient to God’s call? Am I being obedient to his call, to care for my needs, physical and spiritual, and obedient to the call to operate within the way that he has designed me.
So yes, this is exactly where Satan wants us, distracted from who God designed us to be, because if we forget who we are at the core, we cannot operate in our giftings, in our skillset, and we cannot operate out of obedience to the call God has on our lives.
I want to take a quick look at Mark chapter six. Now Jesus sent the 12 disciples out to do things in his name to share the truth in his name. And they came back to him in Mark 6:30, they’ve come back to Jesus and they’ve told him all that they have done and taught. And he said to them in verse 31, “come away by yourselves to a desolate place. And rest awhile for many were coming and going. And they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” Jesus cared about their physical need, their need for sleep and their need for food.
In verse 33, we see that “many saw them going and recognize them and ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
Jesus cared for the spiritual needs of the people in front of him just as much as he cared for the disciples, just moments before, for their physical needs.
“And when it grew late,” in verse 35, “his disciples came to him and said, this is a desolate place. And the hour is now late. Send them away to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” The disciples were recognizing these people are hungry, but they’re hanging on your, every word, Jesus, release them. Give them permission to go eat, give them permission to stop the spiritual nourishment and go get some physical nourishment.
In verse 37, it says that he answers them: “you give them something to eat.”
Now I think it’s quite interesting that just seven versus previous, the apostles had just returned to Jesus from doing the signs and wonders in his name, casting out demons and healing people. And they’re excited, you know, they’re telling him all that they had done and taught and then he cares for their physical need. And then he turns around and is caring for the spiritual needs. And then the disciples say, you need to care for the physical needs. And it’s almost like Jesus is reminding them that he’s given them a task to do, to care for those around them, but they’re forgetting it. But I love that there is no shame here.
They, they respond in they’re like confused like how are we supposed to provide this for this many people? And instead of shaming them, he just provides a way. He steps in and cares for the physical needs of others when these disciples, these apostles, don’t know how they’re going to provide for others.
And I think God does that for us too. Um, sometimes we forget what we’re supposed to be doing in his name. The thing that he’s called us to, especially in motherhood, we forget that we’re given a purpose to further the kingdom. And when it seems like I don’t know how to provide for this, God steps in and he helps us.
They collect the five loaves and two fishes and Jesus multiplies it and they give it to all the people that are there and in verse 42, it says, “and they ate and were satisfied.”
And I love that. Love, love, love that scripture, because it’s not just about caring for the bare necessities. They were satisfied. You know, I have heard mothers jokingly say that their lunch was the leftovers on their kids’ plates. I’ve heard mothers joke about, you know, taking the scraps, taking whatever scraps are given them. And it breaks my heart because God doesn’t want you to have scraps. He wants you to be satisfied.
I am not talking about those days where everything is not working right. And you know, the little one is, you know, spills, everything, and you’re trying to clean it up. And now the baby is crying because their nap time and you need to get them down. I’m not talking about those days. Those, those are moments where it’s just feels like everything is working against you. And those days are real. And they’re hard. Please hear me in that, but even on those days, you need to eat. Even on those days, it’s not about just shoving something in your mouth and moving on with life.
Take care of your physical body.
Verse 45, “immediately. He made his disciples get into the boat and go before him on the other side to Bethsaida while he dismissed the crowd. After he had taken leave of them,” So he sends the disciples off, he sends the people off, what does Jesus do? “He went up to the mountain to pray.”
He has cared for people’s physical needs, he’s care for people’s spiritual needs. They are both important, and now he needs to retreat and care for his soul’s need.
I think there’s a lot we can learn here from Jesus.
First, all the thing I want to point out is the thing that he encourages the disciples to do at the beginning of the section, where he says, come away to a desolate place, eat and rest. He does the same exact thing. He gives an example of what it means to rest. The thing that he wants the disciples to do, he does himself. And I think that we as mothers, we need to remember that we have little eyes on us. We are teaching our children how to rest. We are teaching our children how to love and care for another. And we are teaching our children what it means to care for this body that God has given us and to care for the soul that God has given us. And to be obedient to the call that God has placed on our lives.
The other thing I want to point out, Jesus holds spiritual needs and physical needs. He puts them on the same level of importance. He pulls the disciples away. And I love that he says, come and rest and eat, but he doesn’t say okay, you were out doing all these things. Now you need to replenish with studying of scripture and prayer. No, he says, come, you’ve done your work, come and rest, come Sabbath with me. Come, just be.
But then he notices the crowd and he sees that they have this deep spiritual need and he responds to that and he encourages them in that and he helps guide them in that. But then he notices their physical need. Then He meets the physical need of these same people. It is not any different for Jesus. Your need to eat is on par with your need to draw close to him. They all matter to him. And he doesn’t in this passage, he doesn’t make one out to be more important than the other.
I see Jesus going up to the mountain and praying as him responding to his very soul. The thing that compels him, his purpose, his unique design, his very being. It needed to be tended to because he had served and been obedient in all the things he needed to do, and he needed time to tend to his soul.
I look at this passage and it’s not about getting away from people, he is not escaping.
If you notice, he makes his disciples get into the boat, they are all safely tucked away into the boat. They have a place to be. They are like they’re cared for, right? And then he sends the people away to their homes. So they’re all cared for. They’re all going where they’re supposed to be. They have been sent off.
So he’s not escaping his responsibility here. He has cared for the things that he needs to care for. And now he, he ceasing that for a moment to care for his soul. What Jesus needs here now is not to eat. It’s not to be taught scripture or anything like that. If he needed some kind of spiritual growth right now, or spiritual tending, I know we’re talking about Jesus, but if he had needed like a spiritual discipline side of things, he would have gone to the synagogue, right? But what he needs now is a care for his soul, a reminder of why he’s doing the thing that he’s doing. A reminder who he is and who he belongs to, engaging in that relationship, and I think this is the equivalent of when somebody says I need to go write or I need to go take a walk in nature, or I need to do the things that make my soul come alive. I think this is Jesus’s equivalent. I think this is Jesus’s way of engaging with the Father in the way in which he is designed.
It is his way of replenishing the depletion that has happened by him serving those around him and engaging in the work that has been given him.
And so when we look at it, we see that physical needs, spiritual needs, soul care needs. They’re all important. And I hope what you gain from today is that it is not selfish to pursue any of these. And one is not more holy than another. And so I’m going to leave you with this question. I think that this has helped me personally to identify if I am being selfish or not, because we can be selfish.
We can want things we can, can, um, become lazy or procrastinate. Um, We’re capable of that. We’re human. Right? So what I have found helps me is the question of: is the activity that I want to engage in right now because I feel the need to get away, take escape my responsibility, or is it something that I need to engage with because it will refill me and refuel me and refresh me so that I can continue serving those around me?
I think that if you can identify that difference., It relieves some of the guilt that we put on ourselves for wanting to do anything outside of motherhood.
I am cheering you on. My heart is for you. I pray this week that you see moments that you release that shame of “I’m selfish.” I really truly do hope that you release that this week.
You’re not selfish for wanting to care for your physical body. You are not selfish for wanting to care for your soul and it’s unique design. You are not selfish for wanting to enjoy this life that God has given you, for wanting to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you, for wanting to engage in moments of joy in your day. You are not selfish. 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.
Ask yourself this question: Do I want to engage in this activity because I want to escape or because it will bring a refueling and refreshment to my life?
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.