Nurturing the Garden of Your Mind, Body and Soul

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 

Sadly, I did not inherit my mom's green thumb. Over the years I've made several attempts at a vegetable garden, only to often invest more than we harvest. In our busyness I'm afraid I've sorely neglected the small patch of land we planted this year.

When the kids were little we did a science experiment with two sets of plants. One set was given sunshine, water and love. The other was put in a dark cabinet and neglected. As you probably guessed, the nurtured plants experienced healthy, abundant growth, while the neglected plants withered away.

I recently posted about taking A Full and Complete Stop, a time of rest to refresh your soul. I want to expand on that today into the area of self-care. 

How are you my friend?

Don't give me the superficial, "I'm good." If you're a little uncomfortable in answering this question, awesome! Action is born from discomfort. After all, you wouldn’t walk around with a rock inside your shoe, would you?

So…how are you, really?

Our lives are like a garden. They need to be tended and nurtured (and removed of those pesky rocks) to reap a bountiful harvest - a harvest of joy and contentment.

How do we get to a bountiful harvest?

Soil

God is our master gardener. Our relationship with him is our soil. Are you fertilizing the soil by connecting with him?

You may be in a season of life when a five minute devotion is the best you can do. If that's where you're at, then carve out those five minutes as many days as you can. I've been there, and still am at times. There are times when I’m doing good if I can just whisper a breath prayer at some point during the day.

I've learned, however, to be kind to myself if I don't always find the time to do this. The prison of anxiety and guilt is often the result of not giving ourselves enough grace. 

However, it's also important for me to recognize and remove the rocks that are painfully getting in the way of spending time with God. Distractions, overcommitment, too much scrolling on social media, things that don't...really...matter. When I consciously choose to remove those rocks, I inevitably find more productive time in my day.

Connect with God as you are able in your current season. Anything is better than nothing.

Water

Once we are rooted in him, we can focus on growing. As water fosters plant growth, self-care fosters our physical and mental growth.

I've learned the hard way that to neglect the care of myself is to wither away. In my late 20's and most of my 30’s I was so busy taking care of my young family and those I worked with, that I failed to take care of myself. I gained a lot of weight and began experiencing more aches and pains than anyone should at that age. I was already dealing with PCOS and its myriad of symptoms, when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, muscular dystonia, migraines and fibromyalgia. Not to mention my anxiety and depression were off the charts. 

I thought I was too busy being everything to everybody to take time for self-care. If you’ve read my post, A Full and Complete Stop, then you already know there was a breaking point. My mind and body let me know they'd had enough.

The past several years have been a journey for me in a foreign land of self-care. I had to learn to live with a new normal because of the neglect of my youth. In this journey, I've learned many lessons.

·     I learned I need to care for myself before I can care for others.

·   I learned that those who depend on me often learn the most valuable lessons from seeing firsthand the benefits of self-care. 

·     I learned it is not selfish to focus on yourself.

Eating well, exercising your body and mind, and resting are vital to being the best version of yourself in the season you are in. Even the smallest of changes in the right direction can have rippling effects, not only for your health, but for the well-being of those in your circle of influence. Remember the old saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy?" It goes both ways - you will have a positive influence on those you love simply by taking care of yourself. You have within you the power to set the tone for your family, and it starts with self-care.

Sunlight

So we have our soil and water, but plants also need sunlight. That's where spiritual growth comes in. 

Doesn't that fall under being rooted in God?

Yes, but it’s more.

Having a foundation in God is essential, but I've found spiritual growth is the key to grow and thrive. It's one (vital) thing to know God in your heart, but it's a whole different level of living when his truths are embedded in your life.

·    When you learn you have purpose. "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

·   When you learn he has gifted and equipped you to carry out that purpose. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17). See also the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 which speaks on spiritual giftedness (more on this in future posts).

·    When you learn there's such a thing as a holy "no" that you can say to anything which does not serve the best he has for you, even if it's saying "no" to things that are good.

·  When you learn that working from your giftedness energizes you, because you are so passionate about it.

My friends, this is the abundant life God wants us to have.

Healthy (in body and mind).

Whole (in him and nothing else).

Blessed (abundantly beyond measure).

Connected (with him and our loved ones).

Purposeful (for that which we are gifted and equipped).

Slow and steady really does win the race. Make small changes, one or two at a time, until they become habit. It helps me to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). Ask a trusted friend to help you stay accountable, and schedule a time to meet, call or text each other. However, don't beat yourself up if you have a few setbacks. Such is life. Give yourself grace, pick back up where you loft off and keep...moving...forward.

What small steps of self-care can you begin today in the areas of connection with God, physical and mental health, and spiritual growth? Share your thoughts below to inspire each other along this journey of life.

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