Scripture: Mark 12:28-34
Key verses: (30-31) “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Reflection: A few friends and I have dubbed this month “Self Care February” – and this for two reasons. The first is that February is the shortest month of the year, and experts say it takes about 28 days to form a habit. Perfect! The other is that we’d all had jam-packed Januaries and were just feeling out of whack. So, we each committed to one or two habits to stick to for the month to prioritize health, rest, and stress relief, and we’ve been encouraging each other along the way.
It sounds indulgent – and maybe a little trite – to even write those words as part of a devotional about the Bible’s ethic of neighbor-love. We are used to reading these words as a call to selfless action, a reminder of the Golden Rule, even: treat others as you would have them treat you. And, of course, that is what they are.
Here’s the fly in the ointment. The underlying assumption we tend to have when reminded of Jesus’ call to “love your neighbor as yourself” is that we love ourselves well. If we want good things for ourselves, we should also want them for all of God’s children. This is true. But I wonder if re-reading these verses today might be an opportunity to stop and examine if we are loving ourselves well. Are we taking care of our spirits by including things we love to do in our calendars? Are we finding time for rest, even in the midst of busyness? Are we tending relationships that fill our cups? Do we prioritize our own mental health and spiritual growth? Would you want someone to speak to you the way you speak to yourself?
I know it can be true for me that the busier I am, the lower on the priority list some of these strategies for self-care drop. And yet, I also know that I am a more patient mother and a more compassionate minister and friend when I don’t consider self-care a necessity vs. a “nice to have.”
Take a minute today to check in with yourself. How can you show yourself some compassion today, so that you might also show others compassion?
Prayer: Dear God, sometimes in the midst of my busy life, I forget to be a good steward of this life you have given me. Help me to reflect with honesty about ways I can tend my spirit in this season, trusting you. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].