But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. Luke 5:15-16
Can you imagine word of your business or message spreading so quickly that people were chasing you down? Seems like a good problem to have…unless you are overtaken by it. Like a Hollywood star with paparazzi around every corner, Jesus was gaining a lot of popularity during His day. It would have been easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of needs people had and the fervor with which they sought Him.
Yet, Jesus was a master of knowing His limits. He models it throughout the gospels and if you’re intuitive enough you’ll start to see how He took care of Himself so that He could be of maximum service to others.
Jesus made it a priority to take time alone to pray and reconnect with the Father. It says that He withdrew into the wilderness. He often got up while it was still dark and went out to a solitary place. He knew that time spent alone with His Father was the lifeblood of His mission. He understood that his effectiveness came from His connection to His Father and from the fullness of His inner reserves.
Why is it then, that we often are trying to give out of a deficit? Why do we think we can be up before dawn and hit the floor running and turn in at midnight without so much as a moment to breathe?
When I was a young at-home mom with three girls under the age of five I can remember feeling guilty doing anything for myself. I felt like I was selfish to admit that I needed a break. Afterall, many women would love to have the opportunity to be home with their children. At least I didn’t have to work a ‘real job’. I was jealous that my husband would get to ride alone for ten minutes in the car on the way to his office. I would catch myself in a crazy thought, “I wonder if there is something I could have surgery for so I can get a legitimate break in the hospital?”
After a solid seven years of sacrificing myself I broke down. I ended up in therapy and near divorce. I can remember being asked by my therapist, “What do you think of moms who take care of themselves? Moms who take a break or do things they like to do?”
“I think they’re princesses,” I replied matter-of-factly. I truly thought they were just fragile whiners who couldn’t handle their role. Yet I was the one in the therapy chair. Go figure!
It took me a few years of practicing self-care before I really felt the guilt of taking a break subside. It was a habitual thinking pattern that was unhealthy and proved fruitless. It was time to start reclaiming the part of me I had lost to pleasing and serving and sacrificing myself. And wouldn’t you know it, I started to find happiness again too.
Self-love, as Jesus models it, is not about worshipping yourself. It’s about maintaining a healthy balance between giving and receiving. If Jesus hadn’t taken time alone to pray I bet He would have become resentful of all the needs of the people and frustrated that He had to do too much. He would have lost His power to be effective because the love needed to perform miracles and teach with authority would not have been waiting in His reserves.
But it was. Because He knew His power did not come from Himself it came from the Father and His time alone was of utmost importance. This is the key. Life flows from the inside out. Speak your truth. Refuel your tank with God’s love. Catch yourself if you’re feeling resentful and see if it stems from an empty tank.
Special thanks to Libby who sent me this poem that was read on Charlie Chaplin’s 70th birthday. It came at the right time and was the springboard for this post.
As I Began to Love Myself by Kim McMillen:
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!
Day 8 Lenten Love Prayer:
Today I pray that You would help me to slow down and accept my need for rest and refueling. Let me not think of it as selfish but as necessary. Help me to let go of the unhealthy guilt that would prevent me from taking time away from the demands of life to reconnect with you. Help me to honor my feelings as a wise compass. Speak to me in our private times together. Let me feel your love from the inside and pour it outwards to others from the abundance that I have received. May my life model your word, “Not by might, nor by power but by your spirit.” I know that all good things come from above and not from the sweat of my brow. Let me rest today knowing that You know the way.
Day 8 Scripture:
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33