Taking good care of ourselves seems like a basic concept that we all should’ve learned and now practice; but even in this modern age, many of us haven’t been properly taught or modeled self-care. We often focus on the basic type of care of our physical selves—mainly sleep, diet, and physical activity; however, emotional, psychological, and spiritual care also make up the four key dimensions to well-being, according to the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute.
Spiritual care is a foundational but perhaps a lesser nurtured dimension, as it’s easy to get caught up in the daily demands of our lives, hearts, minds, and bodies. This aspect of self-care involves being attentive to the needs of our spirits, which are tied to the deeper meaning of life and our purpose. “Spirit directs your attention to the cosmos and the planet, to huge ideas and vast adventures, to prayer and meditation and other spiritual practices, to a worldview and philosophy of life. Spirit expands your heart and mind, gives you vision and courage, and eventually leaves you with a strong sense of meaning and purpose” (Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul).
Spiritual care draws us back to the essence of everything, God, and fostering a connection with Him. There are many things at odds with the spirit, mainly the world, the devil, and our flesh.
“For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.
The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace…you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.”Romans 8:5-6,9
The Spirit of God will come to dwell in us not by us just inviting Him, but by cultivating a relationship with Him. Here are four ways to grow in spiritual care.
1. Commit to Daily Prayer
Growth in any relationship requires communication, both talking and listening. Prayer is when we place ourselves in God’s presence and allow our hearts to commune with His. What an immense gift that the God of the Universe cares, listens, and waits for us to come to Him in prayer.
Commitment to prayer is crucial. Like anything important, unless you’re committed and you prioritize it, it won’t happen. Set a time and place so that it will happen daily. If things get challenging, don’t give up. Prayer isn’t about a feeling you get from doing it, as there will be time of dryness, but about growing in friendship with God.
If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray, then how much more do we need to do the same?
2. Take up Spiritual Reading
I’ve loved books since my youth and remember making trips with my Mom every few weeks to the Library for more books. Even if you’re not a big reader, this is an important element of prayer.
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”St. Jerome
Reading, studying, and meditating upon the Scriptures are fundamental in spiritual care. They share the message of Jesus Christ, and the keys to loving, serving, and gaining Eternal Life.
Other reading that contributes to spiritual growth, such as lives of the saints, devotionals, or books on prayer are also beneficial. They can give us insights into the spiritual life that we might not otherwise consider.
If you don’t know where to start, ask someone. My teammate, Tammi, has been reading “I Thirst: 40 Days with Mother Teresa” by Joseph Langford, M.C. After hearing about all the beautiful ways it had moved in her heart, I ordered a copy, too.
3. Keep Holy the Sabbath
Worshipping and taking a day of rest on Sunday are no longer things that society prioritizes or values. Sunday often gets lumped into that other day on the weekend to try and catch up on life. But if you’re not required by your job to work on Sundays (which is OK), then Exodus 20 says to rest.
I know that this can be a hard commandment to observe, but it contains wisdom. God knows that in order for us to continue working, serving, and everything else, we must have an allotted time for rest. But it’s not just about rest, as it is also set apart to remember the covenant God made with His people when he freed them from slavery in Egypt.
For remember that you too were once slaves in Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you from there with His strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the Lord, your God, has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”Deuteronomy 5:15
4. Live Your Purpose
But he said to them, ‘To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.’”Luke 4:43
Christ had a purpose, to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, and He carried that out in His life on Earth. God has created us in His image and likeness. Each of us has been created by Him with an intended purpose.
What are your giftings? What is the work that God wants to do through you right here, right now?
We can get caught up in things like feeling the need to have a platform, do a monumental work, or establish a grand legacy to live our purpose. But these are illusions that can keep us from the true work that God desires from us, which is much simpler.
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”St. Catherine of Siena
Being who God has called you to be, placing your gifts at His service, causes you to ignite the world! So, do not grow lax in nurturing yourself through spiritual care. Not only does it build you up, but it builds up the body of Christ through you.