You Are What You Think

Do you believe any of these common "Mom Lies"?
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The last couple of years have taught the two of us something very significant: the importance of what we think. In fact, we believe it would be accurate to say that many of life’s greatest battles take place in our hearts and minds. We won’t live right until we think right. Perhaps this is why Paul urges us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When our thoughts are grounded in truth, we’re in a far better position to live victoriously.

This includes self-care.

Now, before we dive in, we’d like to say that learning to tell ourselves the truth is something the two of us are growing in individually and as a couple, but we’ve by no means arrived. We haven’t even mastered the items we’ll be discussing in this article! But by God’s grace, we can all embark on a lifelong journey of taking every thought captive and speaking truth in our hearts.

So how does all of this apply to the topic of self-care?

The reality is, we all need a certain amount of self-care. Basic necessity requires us to eat and sleep. Thriving requires more: time with God, time to take care of our bodies, time to take care of our minds.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to succumb to some wrong beliefs about self-care. The truth is, if we’re not thinking properly, we won’t invest the effort necessary to take proper care of ourselves.

So let’s take a few moments to dismantle some wrong thinking that gets in the way of adequate self-care.

The Myth of the Impossible

It might be an oversimplification to say that positive thinking alone will cure everything, but we do feel quite confident making the opposite statement: negative thinking will spoil everything! If that’s true, then there’s no benefit in convincing ourselves that something beneficial we’d like to do—such as carving out more time to take care of ourselves—is impossible.

Yes, your life is busy. (So is ours!) Yes, it feels impossible to add anything. But something we all have to come to grips with is that feelings aren’t facts. Sometimes the facts actually contradict our feelings.

Often, adding something to our schedule is more a matter of adjusting priorities than anything else. That’s easier said than done, we know, but consider an example. If you had a sudden plumbing disaster at the start of a busy week that made a nasty mess in your basement (a real-life scenario we encountered a few months ago!), you’d drop everything else and take care of it—even though you don’t have room in your schedule! In short, you’d reprioritize. And tomorrow, you would keep reprioritizing as you figured out what to eliminate from your day or week to make up for the lost time. And guess what? In most cases, it would all work out just fine in the end. No one would die, and the most important things would still get done.

Why should we wait for an emergency to reprioritize? If our schedules are too full for us to spend time with God, exercise, or read a helpful book, maybe it’s time to say no to some things so we can start saying yes to other things.

Mistaken Identity

Another roadblock we can encounter in our thinking—and this one can be very subtle—is the problem of identity. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a certain identity that we refuse to make changes, even when those changes would ultimately be beneficial.

Consider the story of the invalid in John 5. Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed. That’s an odd question, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to be healed? I mean, that would be amazing, right? Perhaps Jesus had this issue of identity in mind when He asked his unusual question. Think about the changes that were in store for this man. Suddenly, he would have to provide for himself. Others wouldn’t feel sorry for him. He’d be expected to carry his own weight. In short, every way he had learned to relate to the world around him would be turned upside down. His identity would undergo a fundamental change, impacting his livelihood, his relationships, and even many of the tiniest details of his life. Some people, frankly, would prefer to stay in a painful situation rather than endure the discomfort of such massive change.

It’s possible for us to find a certain pride, comfort, or value in being the perpetually overworked homeschooling mom who’s so busy we hardly have time to shower, let alone take care of ourselves in more substantial ways. Or perhaps your identity is that of the Super Mom who takes care of everything with seeming ease, who can’t say no to a single commitment or request—even though you and your family desperately need more margin.

Changing either of those identities would be hard. It would involve first admitting that things we believed to be true weren’t actually true. Then it would involve learning new ways to relate to our circumstances and the people around us—new responses, new habits, new thought patterns.

Changing our identity can be difficult. But it can also be necessary if our identity is standing in the way of important, positive change.

It’s possible for us to find a certain pride, comfort, or value in being the perpetually overworked homeschooling mom who’s so busy we hardly have time to shower, let alone take care of ourselves in more substantial ways. Or perhaps your identity is that of the Super Mom who takes care of everything with seeming ease, who can’t say no to a single commitment or request—even though you and your family desperately need more margin.

Self-Care Should Always Be Easy

Another mistaken idea is that taking care of ourselves should always be easy (or fun!). Going out for coffee with friends, relaxing with a good book—these things can definitely be refreshing and may be part of our self-care. But taking care of ourselves is sometimes hard. Exercising. Getting up early enough to spend time with God. Putting in the effort to develop a workable schedule or routine that will allow us to be more effective on a daily basis. These things are often neither easy nor fun, but still need to be done for our own good.

It’s important to discern at any given time what sort of self-care we need, and not automatically opt for the fun and easy choice when we’re stressed or overwhelmed. If we always choose ice cream and Netflix, it might feel good in the short-term, but in the long-term that’s not good self-care.

Changing Our Mindset

Another area we need to be careful about is our mindset. Is our mindset positive or negative? Do we spend more time thinking about how hard our life is, or being thankful for our blessings? As parents, it’s easy to focus on how difficult or chaotic life with kids can be. But if we choose to continually dwell on those aspects, we’re building up a negative mindset that’s going to do nothing but harm us.

Philippians 1 can challenge us sometimes. In verse 12, Paul writes, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel...”

Paul writes these words as a prisoner. But was he complaining? Far from it! A few verses later, after explaining how the gospel has been furthered as a result of what he’s gone through (including imposters preaching the gospel in an attempt to aggravate him), he says, “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Despite the fact that he’s a prisoner—no doubt with far more to complain about than most of us!—he’s choosing to focus on what God is doing, rather than his personal circumstances. As a result, he’s able to rejoice. I don’t know about you, but I find that convicting! May we all seek to pursue that attitude and mindset.

Please note that we’re not saying we should never acknowledge the challenges or honestly discuss these issues with others. But there’s a difference between sharing and discussing with a desire to edify others and to grow ourselves and just complaining, ranting, or dwelling on the negative.

Self-Care is Selfish

Another error that can creep into our thinking is the belief that self-care is selfish. It’s true that our primary mission on earth is to serve others. Jesus is our ultimate example in this regard. But does that automatically mean that all self-care is inherently selfish and therefore off-limits? Not at all.

The truth is that a certain amount of self-care—kept in balance with our God-given responsibilities, of course—will allow us to fulfill our responsibilities more effectively than if we completely neglect our own well-being.

Think of it this way. Sleep is self-care. Is it selfish to spend a reasonable amount of time sleeping? No. If you didn’t, you would quickly lose the ability to care for anyone else. The same is true of other forms of self-care. It’s not selfish as long as it’s kept in balance.

Telling Ourselves the Truth

Perhaps you recognized yourself in one of these faulty beliefs. If so, it’s time to start intentionally telling yourself the truth. When you catch your mind telling yourself a lie, contradict it and reaffirm what you know to be true. Over time, the false belief will recede and the truth will take hold.

We are what we think. It’s time to tell ourselves the truth.


Linnea Lewis

Linnea Lewis is a new homeschooling mom of three little ones (soon to be four!) who is enjoying this season of life while trying to adjust to ever-changing rhythms and life situations! In spare moments she likes pursuing art and hand lettering, dark chocolate, good coffee, fresh flowers, and clean tablecloths. She is very grateful for God's saving grace and daily mercies. Get in touch with her at linnea@jonlincreativearts.com!



Jonathan Lewis

Jonathan Lewis is a second-generation homeschooling Dad. He and his wife Linnea have been married since 2011 and have three children: Patrick, Timothy, and Katherine (and another on the way). He has spoken at homeschool events across the country, and enjoys sharing the message that homeschooling really does work!


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