Q&A: Is there room for self-care without being accused of selfishness?


In at least two of the gospels, Jesus goes to a place called, well, Bethany, to have a meal with some friends. The host had a skin disease, so it seemed to Jesus’ friends that he was there because there was work for him to do. They thought, “touch the man and heal him! This is exactly what you do!”

But Jesus was eating a delicious dinner and enjoying the company of his friends, skin disease and all.

Then, suddenly, a woman, one of their friends, took out a very special, very expensive sealed jar, filled to the brim with very expensive, deliciously aromatic perfume, and she broke it open, pouring every last drop on Jesus’ head.

I don’t know if any of them had ever smelled anything so good! In fact, it was so startling that one of them became angry said, “how wasteful!! How selfish! We could have sold that and given the money to somebody on the street!”

This story is the closest thing we’ve got to bath bombs, or massages, or lavish self care we’ve got in the Bible. And Jesus is accused of selfishness, of wasting resources, of taking a moment for himself — wasting time, instead of working every hour of every day, as they expect him to. And so, I think, so will we be. But, It seems that self care is part of the way of life that the gospel paves for us. And it seems that Jesus thought it was worth the risk.

Jesus responds to his friends’ accusations by reminding them of this: you have every moment in the world to work and care for the poor. And what she did was beautiful. This is what she had to offer. She has prepared me for what I am called to next in God’s purposes for the world. God uses all things, even perfume and bath bombs for the good of those who love God, for the good of God’s dream for the world.

Do you know what is next for you? Are you ready for it? It seems that someone has arrived in the world with a gift to pour out for you. Soak it in- then go.