Contemplating God’s love welcomes my heart home to a peaceful place of clarity, certainty, assurance and feeling connected. Practicing this contemplation every morning is what I need to stay level minded. William Barry, author of A Friendship Like No Other, writes about wonderful thoughts to meditate on. In one of his exercises about becoming a friend to God, he suggests that we think about the things that bring loving memories to the surface of our mind. This gives us a glimpse into God’s heart as he adores us, loves us and the look he must have on his face when he looks at us. What a wonderful thing to contemplate. We are God’s creation and he created us for his own pleasure. You are absolutely, beautifully cherished. What must the expression on his face look like when he sees your lovely face? When he sees you enjoying your life? I imagine he is celebrating. I love this exercise; it opens my heart and lifts my soul.
I am on a journey to get to the bottom of why it is so difficult for me to take good care of myself. It seems the answer to that question lies in the mystery of discovering God’s attribute of love. If we can take just a moment and reflect on God’s creation of the moon and stars, the galaxies, the earth and all the living things in it, and mankind; we may be able to make sense of the price he paid for our souls with his only begotten Son’s life. Because, he so loved the world. He so loved us. He so loved you. He so loved me. That he created us and created this world, then bought it back after it become less than perfect due to sin. Why would we not take the extra measure and give good care to all the things in it? Why do I find it so impossible to take better care of myself than I do? Even though I can practice contemplating God’s love every morning, sadly I admit it doesn’t take much to get me entangled and off track. I usually start off pretty strong and solid, committed to good self-care with the power of prayer and meditation at the start of my day. But by the end of the day, all is forgotten about God’s wonderful creation, his love, my loving memories… and so on. At some point during the day stress overwhelms me, I make poor food choices and another day ends with defeat, another layer of guilt and shame racked up for my failed attempt at trying harder.
I believe the questions I’m asking on my journey are hidden in the mystery of God’s love and not in my attempt at trying harder. All of my life I have struggled with guilt, shame and perfectionism. Feeling like I am not good enough, not acceptable and feeling like can’t quite measure up. When we understand how valuable we are to God, we have the tools for healing and change. I’m praying that God will create a new heart in me. I want to see and comprehend His love as I have never known it before. I want to catch myself pausing in the middle of the day and thinking about how He is looking at me, concerning himself with his creation, I long to see what he sees in me. A woman absolutely, beautifully cherished.
After only a few weeks of contemplating this love, I’ve learned to create rest stops during the day. Taking my morning contemplation with me throughout the day helps me remember that God’s love for me is constant; never failing, never ending. These rest stops help me become more aware of how I am taking care of myself throughout the whole entire day. The real meaning of good self-care is not limited to keeping my hands out of the cookie jar and working-out regularly. Yet that was the only thing I was measuring! I’ve learned to pay attention to nutrition instead of calories and make plans to eat healthy instead of winging it and then hoping for the best. I am learning to have conversations with Jesus when I need to process emotions like anger, shame and guilt. To take a walk to stretch my legs, get a drink of water when I’m thirsty and not plow through the hours of a day without hydration. Through love and understanding God’s love for his creation, I am learning that good self-care means much more than forcing my-self to adhere to a diet and exercise program. It is a true from of care that contains tenderness and mercy for his creation. When I use the gifts he gave me, and develop the talents that were created in me- I am honoring His creation. Other self-care practices are; keeping doctor appointments, enjoying my favorite music, forgiving others, reading His Word and being at peace with people.
Focusing on His love and not focusing my own ability to “try harder” is a game changer. What about you? Can you imagine God looking at you, his creation? Perhaps he is looking at you in such a wonderful way that you feel loved and accepted for the first time in a long time. You are absolutely, beautifully cherished. Can you close your eyes and picture him smiling and adoring you? What did you do that made his heart leap for joy today? So often as women we set the bar so high for ourselves that we can’t reach it. We reprimand ourselves for not being perfect. When you wake up tomorrow, lower the bar just a little and create an environment where you can celebrate a joy filled life with Jesus. What steps can you begin taking tomorrow that will lead to celebrating you taking better care of yourself?
Sheri Page has been married to her husband for 10 years and cherishes their blended family of 6 adult children and 9 grandchildren. She has worked in and alongside ministries for over 30 years. She has served many roles with in the walls of a church including, a Women’s Ministry director and assistant to a Care Pastor where she served people who were walking through Baptism, Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care and benevolence. Sheri loves to share her curiosity and unique understanding of life with Jesus by her side. She is a 5 year breast cancer survivor and considers that experience to be the one of the greatest gifts God has given her. More writings from Sheri can be found on her blog: https://thelordsdwellingplace.com/