For almost two decades I worked in a field that demanded my sensitivity and availability to other people. Working with families in crises gave me an opportunity to encourage others as well as help them find ways to move past those things that were hindering them from living healthy and productive lives. However, over the course of time, I found myself pouring more and more into people and less into myself. Daily I was standing toe to toe with other folk’s issues of hopelessness, drug addiction, mental illness, sadness, homelessness, suicide attempts, abandonment, family issues,… Whenever someone needed me (personally or professionally), I always went. I gave what I had and many times I gave what I didn’t have. I was lacking sleep. I was no longer eating right. Weight was piling on. I couldn’t have told you the last time I had taken a real vacation thus creating potholes in the roads of my own life- potholes that I kept overlooking and kept running over. I was so out of alignment and on my way to a major crash. I had to find a way to re-adjust. I had to get my life back in balance again. I had to remind myself that it is not selfish to make myself a priority. It’s not easy. It seems like it should be, especially when you have all these tools and skills to help other people. But it’s different when it’s you. It’s different also when you’re seen as the helper. No excuse, but believe me, it is different and I’m still working at it.
It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re always taking care of other people, continually addressing the needs of others, or just doing everything everybody else wants and expects you to do. You’ll see those people whom you’ve helped walk away happy, delivered, and making progress. However, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself tired, worn out, frustrated, and stuck simply because you took care of everyone but yourself. It will be a shock to your system and to those around you who always looked at you as having it all together. No one has it together all the time. Everyone has their moments but if you’re late at recognizing them, you’ll have a harder time recovering from the damage. For instance, if you are driving and your tire blows out, you can stop the car and change the tire. Later you can repair the puncture and perhaps save the damaged tire. However, if you keep driving on a flat, chances are you will ruin the tire, damage the wheel and who know what else. The cost of repair will definitely be more costly.
This week, reevaluate where you are on your priority list. Are you at the bottom of the list? Are you even on the list? Have you fallen through the cracks? Are you ignoring the potholes in the road of your life? What areas of your life need to be replenished? Do you need to re-adjust some things? Do you need a vacation? Plan it and go! Are you in the fast food drive-thru every day? Take time to fix yourself a healthy home cooked meal. Do you need to cut out things? Do it! Perhaps you can’t attend every meeting. Maybe you need to plan a fun night out with friends. You might need to turn off the cell phone, facebook, and twitter (You know people have all kinds of ways of reaching you these days) and take time to relax and take care of yourself. Do it! Don’t let people make you feel guilty about it either! I don’t care who it is! If they get angry at you for not running each time they call or if they can’t understand that you are in trouble and you’re tying to recover your life, oh well. Listen, You cannot effectively take care of anyone or even love others without taking care of and loving yourself.
Matthew 22:36 reminds us of the two greatest commandments. The first one is to love your God with all of your soul and mind. The second one is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This implies that in order to love and take care of your neighbor, you must love and take care of yourself. You are worth the care. You are worth the love.
This is your time to start living your best life! What does that look like to you? Be sure to keep it balanced, healthy, joyful, and full of love! Be sure to keep yourself a priority!
Grace to you!