“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” – Luke 5:15-16
A few months ago I was asked to present a workshop at the Annual IHS Faith Summit on Homelessness. The organizers asked if my workshop could focus on Biblical models for helping. In preparation for the workshop I focused on Bible stories that might shed light on how we might help others. Stories such as The Good Samaritan, Elisha and the Jar of Oil, Paul and the Possessed Girl and others came to mind. However, one story in particular took me in a direction that I did not anticipate; Jesus and the Paralyzed Man (Luke 5).
The story of Jesus and the Paralyzed Man is powerful. In the story, friends of the paralyzed man carry him through the crowds, unto the roof of the place where Jesus in, and then they cut open the roof and lower him down. Out of love for their friend and faith in God, they go above and beyond. The friends in this story teach us much about caring for others. Yet, what spoke powerfully for me in this story as I stood in a room full of social workers, pastors, and care givers of all kinds, was the lesson from Jesus.
Directly before this story, the scriptures say that Jesus was growing in popularity as a teacher and healer. In response to this growing outcry for his presence and care, Jesus withdrew and prayed. In fact, the gospels document several times where Jesus goes off alone, to a quiet place, to pray. Jesus models what it looks like to take care of oneself and to ground oneself.
Perhaps you, like me and many of those workshop participants, can relate to overextending yourself. Perhaps you know what it’s like to try and maintain so many connections with others that you lose track of yourself. In the ministerial world we call this self-care but I think it could just as easily be called, connecting with yourself. Are you listening to the messages your body is sending you? When was the last time you did something that fills your soul with joy? Is there a reoccurring theme to the emotions you are feeling? What were you doing the last time you felt grounded?
I encourage you (and myself) to take some time to pray and to ask God to speak to you through a practice of self-care. Caring for ourselves and understanding where we are emotionally, physically, and spiritually, helps us to care for and connect with others in transforming ways.