Self Care And The Pursuit Of Peace

We are told that the festive season is one for peace and joy, but in reality it can feel like the most hectic season of all.

There’s shopping to be done, sales to be utilised, meals to be planned and prepared, parties to be attended, outfits for said parties to be found...in fact, from December 1st it can often feel like we’re on an inescapable rollercoaster heading full force for the 25th, with no pauses or moments for you to even catch your breath.

Add to this the marketers, the advertisers, everyone who tells you ‘this Christmas has to be the BEST one yet’ - that you need this thing, this outfit, this dish to be really Christmas party, Christmas dinner, Christmas day ready...but yeah, the season of peace and joy, totally.

So what does the pursuit of peace look like in a world where our attention is fought for, fought over and monetised?

I think for some of us it looks like the pursuit of peace through intentional self-care in this period of hyperactive busyness and celebration. But within this pursuit we have a fight on our hands, the fight against self-care on steroids and the strive for spiritual self-care.

I recently listened to the Jeff and Alyssa Bethke’s podcast on self-care where they summarise it like this: ‘consumerism and escapism are pushed on us by modern society and marketers as the best ‘self-care’. Just 5 minutes on our phone, a face mask and a bath bomb, a spa day or girls holiday...it’s all packaged neatly up and sold to us as great self-care’. It creates this ‘bath bomb’ culture of self-care that is devoid of anything that actually resembles care and seems more rooted in these notions of escapism and materialism.

These things burrow their way in and bury themselves in our understanding of the world. They twist and warp our views and mean that a lot of us are carrying around with us the world's view - society's definition of true self care. Which truthfully couldn't be further from the spiritual one.

To go back to the Bethke’s for a moment, as they succinctly summarise, if our ‘self-care’ involves something that's not accessible for everyone, if people are priced out of it, then it’s not true self care...it’s privilege.

‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ Colossians 3v2

So if we know what self-care isn’t, what does that leave us with?

I’d argue it’s peace.

It’s the spiritual pursuit of peace, of saying ‘it is well with my soul’ despite bad news, a bad day at work or a hard season. And that actually means self-care includes things we don’t always want to do. It means not shutting out the world and mindlessly scrolling or resigning ourselves to our room to curl up with Netflix. Sometimes it’s doing things that are good for us and good for others…things that are good by God’s definition, not society’s.

It’s scrolling through your Bible and curling up with the word or a worship track. Self-care is protecting yourself against the ways of the world. It’s resting in the presence of the Lord. It’s giving over to him not just the struggles of your day but the struggles of the world and asking him to give you peace and rest. Definitely something all the bath bombs in the world can’t provide.

So I want to challenge your view of peace and self-care this festive season. Is it a glass of wine and a mince pie whilst you're having just five minutes (or twenty five) on your phone? Or is it taking mince pies round to some neighbours? Is it dwelling on a Bible passage for just 5 more minutes than normal? Maybe it’s carving out family time, alone time, or time with God?

Whatever it is, let’s remind ourselves to set our eyes on things above, rather than on the things of the world. Let’s try rooting ourselves in peace and spiritual self-care this advent season.

‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ Romans 12v2-7