Monday, April 10, 2017

Self-Care vs. Selfishness

I found myself becoming increasingly and increasingly unhappy after writing my last post about self-care. I'd hiked. I'd cooked. I'd painted my toes. I'd crocheted. And I was still unhappy. Very unhappy. I cried the first day I came home from work after break. Then I came home and cried the second day. And I'm not talking about just a few tears. I'm talking about mascara running down my face, loud, ugly crying.

And then I went to Bible study where we talked about priorities. God, husband (if you have one), children, believers, and extended family/friends (in that order). God is always my first priority, and my family (parents and brother) are priority, too. But to be honest, I haven't had much time for my family lately. And I haven't had energy for service, emotional or otherwise. I've been trying to be happy, trying to be nice, and doing none of it.

My Bible study leader asked me if I'd been praying about my priorities, my work. Another lady told me that this "trial" is supposed to make me more Christlike. I told her I didn't see that happening yet. I just felt pain. 

I went home after Bible study and cried and cried some more. I realized that I'd been focusing on myself with a tunnel-like acuity, to the exclusion of everyone else. I was very convicted of my selfishness. But I didn't want to give up my things: running, blogging, self-care time. Those were mine, and all I could hold onto.

Then God convicted me that I hadn't been counting my blessings. I'd been so focused on making myself happy that I wasn't finding joy in little things like crossword puzzles, or Mom buying groceries for me, or Dad putting away dishes (typically my job at home). I took some time to write a list of gratitudes, and God used that to calm my mind. I enjoyed my nighttime snack more that evening and went to bed somber, but a little calmer.

I woke up the next morning and realized how I'd been cramming "self-care" into my mornings to the exclusion of greeting my family, helping around the house, etc. I cried again. With the Holy Spirit's help, I prayed my way through the work day, and I had a better day. God released me to go jogging after work, and I enjoyed it. I also completed my "to-dos," including blogging that evening, and felt okay about it. God ordered my priorities for the day.

What I'm realizing is that a lot of life is about perspective, doing all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), working as unto the Lord, not men (Col 3:23). Self-care is good, if I'm doing it to care for my body as God's temple (1 Cor 6:19-20). Self-care is good, but only if in the right order of priorities. Self-care is good, but only if done in appreciation of God's good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). Self care is good, but only if I do it so that I can deny myself, take up my cross (Luke 9:23), follow Jesus, and serve others. If I do self-care just for myself, it's selfish.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you've hit on something we've talked about in Bible study too. As a culture - and even as a Christian culture - we talk about self care and loving ourselves a lot. One woman in one of my Bible studies was saying that we really don't struggle with loving ourselves. It's not something we need to work at - it's what comes naturally. What we need to do is love God more, love others more. "Love your neighbor as yourself" shows that loving yourself is already a given. I don't know how all those priorities work out, but too much self care and self love can be bad because it's just too selfish! I have no idea how to strike the balance...
    -Emily S