I am not sure what your days look like right now, but as we slowly creep out of quarantine, I find myself getting right back into that busy, fast-paced lifestyle. And if I am honest, I am nervous.
I am trying to be a good wife, a strong leader, a great mom, a patient teacher, a thoughtful friend –– and somehow still be myself. My kids are getting older and more self-sufficient, but they still rely on me in so many ways. Our staff is strong, but they still look to me for insight and direction. My marriage is better than ever, but that’s because I work at it as hard as always. I genuinely love all the roles I play and feel honored to do what I do. But I need, now more than ever, roots that go deep, so I can be a source of strength for everyone around me.
Over the last few years, the self care movement really took off. Women were encouraging each other to treat themselves to that manicure after a long week or put on a facemask and enjoy some alone time. I love some good, old-fashioned pampering, and Lord knows I love to be alone with a great book, but I am learning that self care will only get me so far.
To be my best self, I must practice soul care. Because at the end of the day, my soul needs something a little stronger and longer lasting than a face mask and a candle and a great story to fuel me for all of the responsibilities I’ve been blessed with.
If I don’t fight for my soul no one will. If I don’t set aside time to let the Holy Spirit strengthen and encourage me, how can I expect to be strong for others?
I am learning that at the end of the day, the best thing I can do for the people I love is not anything tangible –– it’s not cooking a great meal, or helping with school work or even preaching a great sermon –– those things are great. Doing things for people is a huge part of what I am called to do, but everything must flow from an inner strength. I think being a strong, centered woman with a living, breathing relationship with God is the absolute best gift I can give to the people I love.
In other words, the best thing you can give the people in your life is the healthiest version of you. If you’re not rooted, where will you draw your strength from?
I think this verse says it best:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
To bear fruit, you’ve got to stay planted near the Source –– you’ve got to stay grounded in your faith. This means being aware of what you’re feeding yourself. What are you feeding yourself? Are you surviving off of scraps from social media? Are you dependent on church for your only Word from God that week?
I am not saying that you have to wake up at 4 am and spend 2 hours alone in prayer before starting each day. Lord knows I am not that woman. But are you maximizing your pockets of time?
It is so easy to tell yourself, “I just don’t have time.” And believe me, I know what it’s like to have days that go from one thing to another. But everyone has pockets of time throughout their day. If I am not careful, I will waste the 20 minutes I have alone in the carpool line scrolling Instagram.
Days will go by where I’ve filled my time spent getting ready or driving or cooking, with news podcasts, audio books, or Netflix on in the background. And don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But all of those are pockets of time that, on those busy days, I could be filling my soul with sermons, teachings, and worship music. You have more pockets of time than you realize.
I want my relationship with God to be like breathing. I want to inhale His presence and exhale gratitude. I want to be in tune with the Spirit and where He needs me to minister that day. Is it a text of encouragement I can spend with a friend? Is it undivided attention I can give to one of my children? Is it a difficult conversation I need to have with a staff member?
Time set aside to read the Bible and journal is essential, but that time is not something I check off my list and move on with my day. It is a part of the whole.
Feeding your soul is not just a spiritual discipline, it is an act of love to yourself. And without it, you’ll always be running on empty. If you want to be a source of strength for those you love, you must first be strong.
Emotional and spiritual fortitude are developed over time. But if you plant your tree by the water, and let your roots go down deep, you will be a source of strength and a place of shade, for those you love. And you will always bear fruit in every circumstance.
Holly Furtick, along with her husband, Steven, are the founders of Elevation Church. Elevation launched in 2006 and has grown into a global ministry with multiple locations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from North Greenville University and is the author of two women’s Bible studies, Building Friendships That Fit and Becoming Mrs. Betterhalf.