Time with God IS self care.
I've been a believer all of my life. I was raised in church and God has always been a very important part of my life since I was little girl. Ever since I could remember I was taught the power of prayer and reading the Bible, but I never really understood the significance and the power it yielded until my mid twenties. Fast foward to now, I'm a stay at home mother of four, (well into her early 30's) a small business owner, wife, and homeschool teacher. Recently I was asked, "How do you do it all?" Truthfully I can't do it all. I just take it day by day. But the answer to that question is quite simple; God.
HE gives me the peace, strength, and power to tackle each and every day.
In March of 2020, when the entire world was in lockdown due to Covid-19, I found myself, along with many others, battling extreme anxiety. For months I would wake up in cold sweats with my heart beat racing as though I was sprinting in a marathon night after night. At first I thought perhaps I was dying as fear gripped my entire mind and body. Over a course of many months I had become a prisoner in my own mind as I endured multiple anxiety and panic attacks daily. It was torture. I struggled with simple every day tasks like bathing, driving, and cooking, and I was constantly exhausted. I longed for sleep but it was a fleeting stranger that would never come. I felt so hopeless. It took months later and the news that we were expecting our fourth child to finally take courage and seek help. (Let me just add this, please do not ever be ashamed to ask for help. It does NOT make you weak.) I sought medical treatment and connected with a faith based counselor who helped me address years of supressed past trauma and taught me how to heal from it. It's still an ongoing process but I praise God for bringing me as far as he has because I'm no longer on medication and have learned productive and proactive techniques to keep me in control of my thoughts. During this time I submerged myself into prayer and most importantly, into the word of God.
Hebrews 4:13 states, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
I had to ask God to renew and transform my mind and heart completely, and He did. I was sick and tired of being so worried and fearful and I was ready for a change. It was during my time of healing I had to learn that my feelings were not truth. They were feelings. And just because I felt them didn't make them the truth.
Constantly, I'd flood my mind and heart with God's truth, writing scripture on sticky notes throughout my home as a reminder of God's power and love for me. The same spirit and power that raised Christ from the dead, was the same spirit living IN ME! So why should I be afraid?! When fear would come to try to steal my peace I had to learn to take control of my thoughts. I'd recite 2 Timothy 1:7 outloud and declare, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." The NET (new English translation) version says, "For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self control." Self control, meaning I COULD control my thoughts. I HAVE the power to control my feelings. It wasn't the other way around. It's undoubtedly powerful when you speak the word of God outloud. Fear flees. Panic flees. The enemy flees.
Prayer and reading God's word goes hand in hand.
God has taught me that prayer is us releasing to HIM all that's on our hearts and minds. Prayer is simply us talking to God, about anything and everything. Our fears, our worries, our stresses, our hopes, our dreams, our needs and requests. It's our opportunity; our privilege to come before the throne of God to give everything to him. God's word says that we can "come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (Hebrews 4:16 NLT) It's our safe place. A place free of judgement. A place that we can come to God in full surrender and release gut wrenching cries and flood the floor with tears. As least I know I do. It's an opportunity for us to quiet our minds and silence all the distractions and meditate on God's goodness. On his faithfulness. It's our open line of communication to Him. Yes, he already knows everything we're thinking and feeling but the prayer is FOR US; it's a sweet release. God yearns to hear from us, just as a parent desires to hear from their child.
The word of God is our way of hearing then from Him. Please do not mistake the Bible to be a gathering of ancient stories that doesn't have any relevance for us today, because I can promise you it does. God's word enables us to break generational curses. Strengthens us when we're weak and weary. Empowers us to be the women and leaders we were destined to be. It gently convicts us when we're wrong and encourages us when we're tired. There's power in the word of God to transform us from the inside out.
So now I faithfully commit time to prayer and reading the Word of God.
Not because I HAVE to but because I GET to.
I have the honor of coming to the Almighty God, talking to him and hearing back from Him through his word. No it's not a booming audible voice that sounds like thunder, but it's more of the quiet peaceful voice inside that reassures me, "You're loved. You're not alone. You can do hard things because I am with you."
Prayer produces miracles through faith. I am a testimony to that. I overcame the stronghold of anxiety because of prayer and God's powerful word. Yes I am still a work in progress and from time to time I still have to put to use the techniques I've been taught but I'm not hopeless. Christ has given me a peace and joy that this world cannot take away. I'm still learning and will continue to learn but that's the beauty of walking with Him. I look foward to my time with God. To waking up early, before the kids wake up, before the emails, and school work, before the business and choas begins, I sit in stillness and talk with God. I diffuse my essentail oils, and take out my bible and prayer journal and listen. Sometimes with worship music and sometime without. I focus not on how I feel but I focus on God's unfailing faithfulness. My prayer time and bible time is my "me time". It's my way of practicing self care. After all, no one can pour from an empty cup.