I have a hard time taking care of myself. It isn't that I don't want to care for myself. I just always think there are more important things to do. When did life get so busy?
Running into spiritual direction, the truth smacked me in the face like a 2 by 4. After 45 minutes of sharing my busy and over committed schedule, my director said: “Mary, we are mind, body and soul. You are exhausted! If you don’t learn to care for yourself first, or you will never be spiritually healthy.'
Wait, doesn't God ask us to put others before us? (Matthew 20:16)
Deny yourself? (Luke 9:23-24)
Isn't putting ourselves first selfish?
A BALANCED LOOK
Jesus said that the second most important commandment in the Old Testament was to 'love your neighbors as yourself' (Mark 12:31) That means loving and caring for yourself has to come first. Loving yourself is not selfishness – at least not the bad kind. It is an act of stewardship. It's caring for the most important resource God gave you – YOU.
Taking care of your body, your health, and your emotions is important. Because your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are composite of body and soul and how we care for our bodies matters. By respecting our bodies, we not only honor God, but it also bears life for others.
We are called to love. And we can't do that if we're runned down Catholic zombies – tired, sick, and emotionally exhausted. We can only give to others what we have. Learning to care for ourselves, body and soul, allows us the freedom to love others more abundantly.
When we're not balanced and caring for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, it has a ripple effect on everything else.
No Time for You
I spoke to a friend recently who laughed at me as I told her I was working on balance. 'Good luck!' she said. 'I gave up on that a long time ago.'
Has life gotten so busy that peace and balance aren't even possible?
So many of us are overdosing on Starbucks and energy drinks and racing through our days. We're trying to balance schedules, sports, school, work, family, friends . . . We can't sleep. We can't pray. We have more technology to do things faster and easier, but we're busier than ever.
But it comes at a cost – YOU.
Just last week I saw this in action. Marian, our most active teen leader in youth group was just about at her breaking point. Her life was like a house of cards crashing down one by one — finals, leadership activities, college applications. She hadn't slept well in weeks. Her prayer life was horrible. Her anxiety was starting to show in physical symptoms.
Her body and soul were screaming out – take care of me.
That's not what Christ wants for Marian's life . . . or for your life! He came so that we would have life and live in abundance (John 10:10).
REST FOR THE WEARY
Even Jesus took time to restore his body and soul. He removed himself from the crowds to be silent, rest, and pray (Luke 5:16).
If the Savior of the world needed to rest, then so do we.
Just don't forget where the #1 source of your nourishment and renewal should come from – God.
Christ says all who come to him will never hunger (John 6:35). He will satisfy our souls. Our greatest need is our need for Christ.
So spend some time pouring out your heart to Him in prayer as you relax on the couch or worshipping Him as you take a long walk. Connect with some close friends. Go to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Take your Bible and go to your favorite coffee shop – feed your soul. Care for your body. It will bring life to more than just you.
He tells us 'come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.'