The Validity and Benefits of Good Self-Care, Part 5
by Jim Walter, ThM
As we continue our series on Biblical self-care, we discover that one the best ways to genuinely love and care for ourselves is to trust in the Lord, pursuing deep, experiential knowing of Him.
Proverbs 3:5-8 (New English Translation) invites us to:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
6 Acknowledge him in all your ways,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own estimation;
fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 This will bring healing to your body,
and refreshment to your inner self.
There’s a lot here! We might understand this passage as the foundation for all good self-care: That we ultimately entrust ourselves at a very deep heart, emotional and mental level, not to ourselves or to anyone else, but to God Himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And not just for an initial salvation experience or for our eternal destiny, but also for everything else, and for right now!
What about “your own understanding?” Verse 5 does not say: Ignore, diminish or disregard your own perspective, viewpoint, or experience. Actually, being self-aware is a prerequisite element of self-care--to be able to name and express how things seem to us—our own understanding.
Rather it says, “Do not rely on your own understanding. Don’t make our own self-awareness the final word on anything! Cultivate the humility that expresses, “Here’s what I think/feel/experience, but that is not what I ultimately rely on.”
So if we don’t rely on our own understanding, what do we do instead?
Verse 6 urges, “Acknowledge him in all your ways.”
The word translated “acknowledge” means to deeply, experiential know another; to seek and get another’s perspective; to have intimate fellowship with another.
So instead of relying on our own understanding, our own perspective, we are urged to deeply experientially know God, get His perspective, to seek His point of view…on everything!
Then, out of knowing God’s perspective—His point of view—the rest of the verse promises "...he will make your paths straight, (NET); “he will show you which path to take,” (NLT).
Wouldn’t that be good for us? Especially if we are confused, hurting, or upset?
To reinforce this path to good self-care, in the next verse we’re directed: “Do not be wise in your own estimation; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
Being “wise in our own estimation”— believing I am smart enough, experienced enough, spiritual enough to figure things out, to solve my own problems apart from deep interaction with the Lord—that pride is the main reason we are vulnerable to trusting in ourselves. And it will usually get us into trouble!
Fearing the Lord focuses our minds and hearts on Him. It is not being afraid of Him or his punishment; it is an appropriate humble focus on Him…and it is the best protectant against turning toward evil.
Of course, that would be bad self-care!
In verse 8, He promises that doing all this will ultimately be good for us: This will bring healing to your body, and refreshment to your inner self.
When we are struggling or having difficulty of any sort, to whom do we entrust ourselves? And how do we entrust ourselves to God?
When you are in a difficult, even painful situation:
1. Pray, naming and expressing everything you understand (or think you understand) about what is going on, especially your complaints or negative emotions (sadness, anger, fear, etc.)
Dear God, I’m really upset that _______________________;
I’m frustrated that _____________ and I’m afraid that __________________!
It’s not supposed to be that way! It doesn’t make sense to me that __________________. And it seems to me that __________________!
2. Ask Him for His perspective:
This is my understanding, but I am not going to rely on it; what I perceive is not going to be the final word on this.
Lord, what do You want me to know right now? What is your perspective?
[Listen carefully…write down any thoughts, feelings, impressions, images that come to your mind. Note: you always edit any that you don’t think are from God.]
3. Ask Him for His direction:
Lord, what do You want me to do right now?
[Again, listen carefully…write down any thoughts, feelings, impressions, images that come to your mind. Edit any that you don’t think are from God.]