Today marks TWO WEEKS since Free of Me released, and the journey has been incredible. I have treasured every message, every handwritten note, every comment and tweet describing how the book has spoken to readers or encouraged them. Each one feels like a sacred answer to prayer.
In honor of this two week mark, I want to share a short excerpt from the book addressing a question I get a lot: What role does healing and self-care play in your message? There is such a temptation–especially among women–to lose ourselves in our roles as wives and mothers, so how do we avoid this pitfall?
This was a major concern of mine as I wrote Free of Me, which is why I devoted an entire chapter to it. It’s SO important to draw a distinction between “dying to self,” and self-imposed martyrdom, because they are not the same.
The difference, I believe, is a matter of identity. When our identity is overly defined by our families, or our careers, they become slave masters of sorts. We run ourselves into the ground serving them, all for the sake of upholding some need to BE something. In the process, we become paler and more fragile versions of ourselves.
In contrast, service to God has the opposite effect. On the other side of Christlike dying to self is not death, but resurrection. Strangely, it’s a death that produces flourishing. And it’s an act of service we choose out of the gladness of our hearts, not out of a desperate need to prop up our sense of self.
I could go on, but instead I’ll simply share this brief section from the chapter “Forgetting Yourself Without Neglecting Yourself,” because it captures the vision I am trying to cast:
This sounds silly now, but when I was younger, I didn’t fully understand the value of healing. Whenever I attended women’s conferences, I watched women stream down the aisles, sobbing over wounds from their past, and declaring their freedom in Christ. I observed all this, and shrugged. I couldn’t relate to it at all. At that time in my life, I had only a few cuts and bruises, but no big emotional scars. The world had been relatively kind to me, so my healing was a neat and tidy process, and I was eager to move on to other things.
When we look at Jesus and his own priorities, we encounter a very different perspective. Healing was not an interruption or a speed bump on the way to matters more pressing. Instead it consumed a large portion of his time. Jesus delighted to heal people, to listen to their pain, and to weep alongside them. He knew better than anyone that healing is a sign of the kingdom of God, not a lesser priority or a thing to be rushed. Jesus also understood that we cannot “run the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1) if we are too wounded even to stand.
Healing mattered to Jesus, which means it matters to us. It’s a promise we have in Christ, and it’s our mission in the world, but it’s also an act of stewardship. Every runner knows that running requires a healthy body. When preparing for a race, you cannot neglect your diet, or jog on a broken leg. Your body needs attention and healing and care, and your spiritual life is the same. God commands us to stop and rest so that we can better serve him, our families, our communities, and our friends. That’s what makes his race so unique. It’s the only race in which rest is a part of the running. We recuperate so that we can run.
This race is also unique in that it heals us as we run. The more we pursue God, the more whole we become, because running is what we were created for. God designed us for an all-out, arm-pumping, feet-pounding sprint after him. That race is the place you will feel most fully alive, so give yourself time to heal when you need it, and honor God’s command to rest, but also remember this: healing doesn’t happen on the sidelines alone. We heal to run, and we run to heal.
Healing matters. Full stop. No qualification. It’s a big part of the reason Christ died. But. We are healed for a larger purpose. And, we are healed as we step into that purpose. This bigger story is both our call, and it is our rescue.