Looking after ourselves
Self-care was a buzzword a few years ago now but the overall practice which it stands for remains important. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. To be good friends, partners, spouses, employees, volunteers, we need to be ready and able to show up to the people and other responsibilities in our lives.
We can feel depleted by life’s often quite ordinary stressors or perhaps we fall into rhythms or relationships which become an extraordinary drain on our ability to look after ourselves and our overall wellbeing.
Companies have done well, and continue to do well, marketing products that promote self-care, that promote personal wellness and ways to de-stress or even fill our cup. If we have a bad day at work, or perhaps a catch up with a friend doesn’t go well, it’s easy to reach for convenient comforts that come in a package or price label to make us feel better.
Whether it’s an expensive haircut, or a luxurious body scrub, new linen or perhaps a new video game for the lads, products can certainly make us feel looked after. To an extent, particularly where hygiene or health is involved, these products are useful and beneficial.
However, we are more than our physical bodies and sometimes we need to take care of our mental health, our spirits. We need to fill our cup and I think that’s something spiritual.
So what is the cup?
If you haven’t come across the cup metaphor before, here’s a quick rundown: Each of us is like a cup which is affected physically, socially, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Any interaction we have with another person can fill up or take out of our cup, and different people can drain the cup in different ways.
What is important is that we don’t pour out of our cup until it’s empty, we need to make sure we’re getting it filled up too. An empty cup is no use to yourself and your wellbeing, and nor can you be useful to people who need to be filled up from your cup.
Where is Jesus in this? Well, where you pour your cup may not be where you get filled up and I think this is often where we enter trouble when we’re not aware of this. We pour our love and wisdom into other people, not realising that they may not be currently equipped or prepared to fill us back up. We end up disappointed and frustrated that this relationship doesn’t appear reciprocal.
But we actually don’t need to seek out human relationships to fill our cups. We don’t need to rely on, and subsequently, be disappointed when other people can’t meet our needs. Or when commoditised self-care options don’t renew us after a stressful day at work.
We can be filled and renewed by Jesus.
God to fill our cups
Jesus tells us in Matthew that He will give us rest (Matthew chapter 11, verse 28). Jesus tells us that He can give us living water and we will never thirst (John chapter 4, verse 14). In Psalm 23, David writes that the Lord leads him beside quiet waters and refreshes his soul, and anoints him, his cup overflowing.
Jesus can, and should, be our main cup filler. With Jesus, we will never thirst. Sure, a good sermon or podcast, a good book or conversation can be life giving and can fill up our cup. Sure, a nice face mask, a block of Whittakers, a new fluffy blanket from Kmart can make us feel better when we’re overwhelmed. But we can’t rely on this to sustain us. We need Jesus.
When we love and serve out of our Jesus-filled cup, we should never burn out; our cup will never be empty. Loving and serving out of Christ’s finished work and His perfect love and strength, who fills us up to overflowing.
Our everyday approach
I am, however, under no illusion that this won’t be hard work. If we accepted God’s love and sacrifice once and that was all we needed, then we wouldn’t have relationship. But we are imperfect humans. We need to approach God to fill up our cups often.
Each day we should humble ourselves, acknowledging we cannot do it on our own. Each day we should come before God and let Him lead us beside quiet waters so that He may refresh our souls and fill our cups to overflowing. With God, our cups will never be empty.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.