Years ago I took off what I called my “superwoman, super-Christian cape”….it was heavy and burdensome. I finally came to the place where I realized I couldn’t do it all!
As a wife and mother it came naturally for me to take care of others and look for ways to meet the needs of others, and so on the positive side I am compassionate and caring, plus serving is one of my spiritual gifts. But on the negative side I spent so much of my time oblivious to my own needs and ignorant about how to meet my own needs that I was wearing myself out.
Throughout the years I’ve learned that I need balance because it’s too easy to spend all my time thinking about what I need to do to take care of others around me. And it wasn’t because I was a saint and or because I was a super Christian, even though that’s what I wanted to portray, but it was because that’s what I had been trained early in life to do; to be a caretaker, to be a people pleaser. Other’s needs were more important than my own. And growing up how I acted or what I did would affect the patriarch of the family.
And so I learned very young to anticipate needs, moods and worked very hard to be perfect….because if I didn’t, and if the family didn’t act just so, then my uncle would blow up over the smallest infraction, the slightest imperfection, the least mistake, and all hell would break loose.
So part of my journey in recovery has been to learn to recognize my own needs and learn to care for myself. The biggest hurdle to overcome was that I felt selfish if I chose to take care of myself. Yet Jesus says in Scripture that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. One way I began to think differently was to detach and look at myself as if I were my neighbor. It was then I could look objectively to identify my own needs. In many ways I was clueless as to my own needs.
And I discovered something else as I began to look at my busyness….I discovered that being super busy and taking care of everyone else’s needs above my own allowed me to live in isolation, and out of proximity from my relationships. Truthfully, I was afraid of allowing anyone to near, to close; it was safer to keep them at a distance, to keep them happy. I was a doer; I didn’t know how to be! Plus, being a doer and a people pleaser allowed me to never look to deeply at what was going on inside, to be alone with my thoughts.
So over the years I’ve learned to ask myself “What do I need right now?” and often an answer will rise to the surface. And it takes practice to ask myself,” What would be best for me in this situation?” “Is this really what God wants for me in this?” “What is my motive in this?”
Slowly I am learning. Some days I have to be intentional in taking care of myself……yet as I do it is increasing my soul nurturing and increasing my joy. I like to call it soul nurturing rather than self care….because it enables me to look at it from a different perspective, it is not out of selfishness….. Rather, soul care is not optional; it’s not a luxury but a necessity.
Because out of caring for myself flows the joy of caring for others, my motive for taking care of others has changed. No longer is it out of fear, or so that they will like me or not abandon me, rather it flows from a place of security, rest and love.
I worried in the beginning that this might make me selfish, or appear selfish, but I am finding that’s not true. I still care about others, I still like to anticipate the needs of others, and I still like to serve. The change is that I now care about my own health and well-being too. None of us can find balance in our lives or become the woman or man God has in mind for us to be if there is no room for quietness, and soul nurturing that restores our souls.
So now I turn the question to you…..how about you, do you care about your own needs yet? If not, why not take on this challenge: Start asking yourself what you need or what would be best for you. Try it and see if it leads to good changes in how you do things.
The great freedom Jesus gives us is to be ourselves, defined by His love and our inner qualities and gifts rather than by any kind of show we put on for the world. ~Leslie Williams
Being loved by Him whose opinion matters most gives us the security to risk loving, too—even loving ourselves. ~Gloria Gaither
There is a time in which to be, simply be, that time in which God quietly tells us who we are, and who he wants us to be. It is then that God takes our emptiness and fills it with what He wants ~ Madeleine L’Engle
Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your world, invite Christ to preside over every aspect of your life, including self care…..It’s the best way to live and the surest path to peace . . .