Are you like me? Do you put others’ needs and desires before yours? Do you offer to help your friends and loved ones to the detriment of what’s best for you? If so, welcome to my world, or shall I say my former world. Scripture says, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.
What a perfect way to live a full and healthy life. Unfortunately, I was loving my neighbor before myself. This included saying, yes, and offering my time and service to others, without considering what I needed to stay healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The stress from these reoccurrences was creating sickness in my body. I asked the Lord, why do I continue to get sick? What are you trying to teach me? The words that came to my mind were boundaries, balance, and blessings. It was so clear. I needed to spend time on myself before offering to help others. You see, if I am not whole, I am no good to my loved ones. The expression put on your oxygen mask first so that you can be there to support and love others is something I am finally learning how to do.
God isn’t saying love your neighbor before or more than yourself, but as yourself. This requires self-love and self-care. I knew that I needed to start carving out time to rest and focus on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I am happy to say that I am now practicing saying no, setting personal boundaries. Scheduling balance to allow time in my day for healthy habits such as daily exercise, time in nature, and time in the Word. At first, I felt guilty, like I was being a bad friend. It was really hard to say no, and schedule time in my day for me. After putting it into practice several times, I now feel empowered and am learning that to love my neighbor well, I need to love myself first, well.
This change in mindset and focus has given me time to reflect on all the blessings that God has bestowed on me. The ability to work allows me the financial independence to provide a stable home for my daughter and me. A healthy mind and body to plan, create and enjoy experiences with my daughter. Time to be there for my longtime friends, and time to rest, resulting in the energy needed to build and forge new relationships with people who have similar interests and passions.
Jesus modeled self-care by building community to ensure daily encouragement, practicing gratitude, taking time to eat and rest daily prayer, and memorizing scripture. I feel so blessed that the Lord has taught me to love myself, so that I may be healthy to love others. If you are reading this, and this resonates with you, I hope that you pause, ask the Lord for space and grace to put on your oxygen mask, take a deep breath, and feel whole and loved.
Please remember my friend, “ The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.” Proverbs 19:8
Denice Choka is a child of God, a mother, an author, blogger, and encourager. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.