What is true self-care? Well, first let’s ask, What is our “true self”? The answer lies in discovering that at the core of our “self,” we find God, the absolute, divine all-power and presence. And then we discover the healing impact this understanding can have in our lives. To care for ourselves is to keep the cup of our lives so filled that it can overflow to others.
True self-care starts and stays with knowing ourselves as God knows us. Sometimes, to fill our cup with this awareness means emptying out mistaken beliefs about our identity to make room for a fresh, uplifted, spiritual understanding of what we are. To engage in this kind of continuous care and maintenance of our health and harmony is to feel a deep rootedness in God, the only Life and Mind. Self-care is really God being God—divine Love revealing its constant goodness through its own self-expression, you and me. This is true of everyone else as well, because we are all God’s, Mind’s, individual divine ideas.
This self-care has biblical roots. Jesus identified these spiritual priorities for humanity: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37–39, New King James Version). In pointing out the primacy of these two commandments, Jesus highlights three areas in which to focus our love: love for God, love for ourselves, and love for others. Care for ourselves is therefore not a luxury but a necessity, despite how often we might tend to put it off, thinking that if we finish our responsibilities (laundry, bills, dishes, etc.), then we can take a moment for ourselves. It’s really the opposite approach that is needed.
True self-care starts and stays with knowing ourselves as God knows us.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of this magazine, often articulated the importance of praying daily for ourselves. Inherent in this prayer is identifying ourselves as whole, spiritual beings: “Man, as the idea or image and likeness of the infinite God, is a compound, complex idea or likeness of the infinite one, or one infinite, whose image is the reflection of all that is real and eternal in infinite identity” (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 239). Understanding our identity as the actual likeness of God invites us to delight in the extraordinariness of our real, God-expressed self. We see how we are each wholly the reflection of divine Life and Love. We take care of ourselves through prayer that acknowledges this and tunes us in to our source, God. As we feel God’s presence, we see our identity as beyond any physical structure—as a radiant idea of infinite good.
When daily prayer becomes a regular way to practice self-care, our cup fills to overflow with the goodness that enables us to care for others. Caring for ourselves is not self-indulgence; it is integral to caring for others. We can’t pour from an empty cup. The articles in this week’s issue discuss ways to keep our cup filled. Or in other words, to fill our lives with an understanding of the absoluteness of Spirit and find our deeper, spiritual identity and experience healing.
We fill our cup with an awareness of the kingdom of God within us, as elaborated in this week’s lead article, “ ‘God with me’ was my prayer.” Feeling the power of divine presence filling our hearts, we experience a joy that naturally moves us into compassion for ourselves and others.
Compassion toward self and others is requisite for Christian Science healing (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 362–365). As Eddy wrote to a student, “Yes, dear one, begin at home as you said, labor for your own sanctification, spirituality, health, holiness. I find that in proportion as I do this for myself the whole world feels it. That is why I greatly desire more time to give to this self purification” (L09957, Mary Baker Eddy to Sarah Pike Conger, June 19, 1899, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity).
Prayer for ourselves fosters a willingness to see ourselves more clearly and identify our true self as the direct reflection of God. We gain more grace and love and find that this blesses others.
Larissa Snorek, Associate Editor