Day 25

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” – Galatians‬ 5‬:16‬ NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

As I’ve written here before, I’ve recently begun the training necessary to answer calls on the national suicide hotline. So much of the training is about focusing on the skills necessary to provide support to the callers. Active listening, empathy, and properly identifying the callers’ feelings are many of the skills that are taught. One of the main focuses of the training is different than I was expecting, however. A lot of it is focused on us, as the caregivers, and providing us with ways that we can take care of ourselves so that we can provide the most beneficial service possible without being overwhelmed or without burning out. Self-care is the modern term of art, and it is highly encouraged by the organization that I am training with. One of the more fun and unexpected lessons we had was on common stress reducers that we can all use.

Believe it or not washing dishes is a very common stress reducer. But it’s key to allow yourself to be aware of your senses while doing it. Physical touch is another big one. Cuddles and hugs can really serve to relax a person. Good posture, another. It aligns the muscles, bones and tendons in a way that maximizes the efficiency of the body’s systems and allows the healing power of our blood to flow throughout the body. Meditation (mindfulness) and sleep are absolutely key.

The common theme of all of these is how they engage the senses, which connect us to our present moment and center us. Centering can greatly help to alleviate the shame and regret of the past or the anxiety and fear of the future.

It’s pretty common in Lent that we decide to cut things out of our lives that gratify the desires of the flesh. Things like what we eat, what we watch, or what we do. All of these things are examples of how we use our senses to engage with the world around us, and we cut ourselves off from the world around us by limiting these things. Self-denial is the central theme. Self-care, however, is not the opposite of self-denial. Too often self-care takes on the idea of pampering or being selfish or self-indulgent. But in reality, all these things, washing dishes, meditation, physical touch, that are important for self-care are not about gratifying the flesh. They are about using our senses to gratify the soul. And where the soul is being gratified, the Holy Spirit is present.

Later on in Galatians it says, “’But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). If we make ourselves available to Him, we can use our flesh to glorify Him in everything that we do every day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s