|Posted on October 4, 2019 at 11:25 AM|
Vistaprint stock photo.
Recently, I felt pummeled by troubles ranging from a damaged computer to pressures of trying to finish our house and move while trying to start groups and classes, to one huge flare-up that landed me in bed for a few days. You likely noticed my posts were sporadic at the end of my visit with my daughter in Colorado until recently. It seemed like I was spiritually slammed down to the proverbial mat. Often, I find myself up in the middle of the night since fibro and pain wake me up. This morning was one of those mornings.
It seemed the Lord was showing me several things. One is the level of selfish ambition in our world that appears to be at an all-time high, "Do it for yourself," they say. The second is that I fight an invisible battle of balancing my needs with the needs of others. This is a common problem for those in ministry and for Christians in general. The onslaught I've dealt with over the past few weeks now makes sense as I've pondered these points.
Caring is Exhausting, So Retreat When Needed
I think being a parent or caregiver brings a better perspective on the fact that life is about more than just us. This is my third round of caregiving. I am also a parent of three adult children and a grandma of 10 grandchildren (combined between my Boaz' and my families). There have been a few times the importance of taking care of myself really stood out to me recently. The first is when my daughter-in-law went into the hospital in critical condition with pneumonia. I spent quite a bit of time with my son at the hospital supporting him. The reality that he could lose his wife was so weighty, I labored in prayer for all of them. I helped watch my grandkids for some of that time. Every ounce of energy drained from my body. As soon as I came back, several people called within a few days who sought my attention. My mom needed my help. I looked at my husband and said, "I desperately need to get away. Just the two of us, please." We hopped in our plane to visit a couple of beaches at the tip of the Thumb of Michigan. It was so refreshing! I gave out so much of myself that renewal time was like inhaling after having exhaled every bit of air I held in my lungs. Renewal time is vital to be available again later.
Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Others
The other moment was this week when my mom needed me to take her to the doctor. I also set an appointment for myself since we would already be there. Interestingly, going to a D.O. family doctor can seem a lot like a Family Circus! Mom fell last week, so she needed to be checked to see if there was any damage. She also required prescriptions renewed. Then it was my turn. Typically, I go on my own, but an incident in Colorado concerned me, so it needed checked out. I wondered if it could have triggered such a nasty flare. Believe me, you haven't lived until your elderly parent interjects her own issues in the middle of your exam! Oh, my! X-rays, blood work, and scripts in hand, we were finally out the door two hours later. At any rate, getting her wheelchair in and out of my car several times plus holding the door with one foot while stretching to pull her through the doorway over and over made realize how weak and tired I felt. She needs me to stay healthy and strong. Not only does she need me, but my hubby and the rest of my family need me. God has ministry work for me to continue. Therefore, I must exercise, eat healthily, get rest, worship God, read my Bible, and go to the doctor when needed for more than just me. Sure I do it for me, but I also do this for them-- and for you.
What if I decided to only focus on getting my gym body back, pretending my health conditions didn't exist? What if I decided to "do something for myself"instead of taking care of my mom's need to go to the doctor or family members who needed to talk out issues with me? Pretty vain, huh? It certainly would be. God created us to be and do so much more than just our little world of Me, Myself, and I. He created us for community-- to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A39&version=NIV" target="_blank">), and look to others interests and Christ's as well as our own (Philippians 2:4, 21). Our personal needs must be balanced (physical, mental/emotional, relational, and spiritual) with the needs of others in light of Jesus' commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visiting those in prison (dare I say, hospitals and nursing homes, too?) and helping the widow and fatherless (Matthew 25:41-45, James 1:27). There is only one me and so many of them and you. I need to recharge and renew for others by spending time with the Lord and taking care of my own basic needs. It becomes a life rhythm.
Consequently, it's also easy to do too much for others without taking care of our own needs. You know those who give crazy guilt trips if you don't load up every waking moment with missions and ministry. There is no time to do anything for your own needs. The great Christian lie, "Do everything for others to the neglect of yourself," causes burnout and resentment. I've seen more pastors and their families fall prey to this lie from the pits of hell. These are the loving saints who came to the gym because their blood pressure was off the charts while the scale groaned beneath their tremendous weight. It was then they realized their great mistake in believing their needs should go without attention. Many have left the pulpit to seek less stressful work elsewhere, thereby neglecting the call God placed on their lives. What a shame, too. Christian wellness is based on personal stewardship of one's self to serve God and others more effectively. Taking care of our own needs is imperative. We can't give out if there is nothing left to give. This becomes a never-ending balancing act every day.
Balancing Me with We and Us
We aren't on our own individual islands. God created us to be in a community with others. We rely on each other and communicate with each other. We need each other. Learning how to balance our own needs with the needs of others is vital to overall health. These tips are some of my own discoveries through the years that might help you balancing your caring needs:
1.Take time with God every day in prayer and reading your Bible. Listen for His voice and cues throughout your day.
2. Take care of basic hygiene and sleep, or you will eventually get sick.
3. Get your exercise on a regular schedule.
4. Be careful to not be everything to everyone, instead invite others in to assist by offering a support network to those whose needs are too much for you.
5. Always point others to Jesus.
6. Keep appointments with your doctors, dentist, and other health professionals as a priority.
7. Never neglect your family's needs to meet the needs of others; otherwise, it will cause resentment and hurt the relationships you hold dear.
8. Invite family to pray and help with ministry to others, as appropriate for the ages of children and your station in life. God will tug on your heartstrings as a family for the ministry in which your family should take part.
9. Protect your home space for the safety and security of your family, even when hosting guests by offering your house rules to them. Be kind yet firm.
10. Never go on a rescue mission alone because these needs are weighty, and the person being rescued needs strong community support.
Once you get your rhythm of caring set, you will begin to thrive. How can we pray for you as you work to balance self-care and caring for others? Many blessings to you!