Self care has become an important part of my life. At first it felt selfish, but I slowly began to realize it is more selfish NOT to take care of myself. I have admitted to myself that I am the kind of person who NEEDS alone time, down time, selfish “me” time. I am the kind of person who needs to have a time to shut the world out so that I can function productively as I live in the world. Admitting this is one of the best things I have ever done. Through this admission, I am learning to put myself before others… and not feel selfish or guilty about it because when I take care of myself, I am better prepared to be who God calls me to be for others.
Yesterday, I was struck with a heavy feeling…sadness. I wasn’t able to identify why until much later that evening. It was plain and simple loneliness. But that didn’t make sense to me because I usually have a lot of people around me. Plus I have people calling me, emailing me constantly. I shouldn’t be lonely!
I decided to do a recap of one of my recent regular days. I counted the number of phone calls, emails, and other contacts I had in that day. The number was very high… so if the number of interactions was what mattered for loneliness then I shouldn’t have been feeling lonely at all.
God asked me to look at something else… quality of contact. My heart felt like He was asking me to look at the self-care quality… not the quality of the person or the conversation… but what that interaction added to my quality of life. I reviewed my emails, phone messages, and memories of conversations through-out the day and I knew quickly, God was showing me exactly why I was feeling lonely.
95% of the contact I had on that random, normal day had been all or mostly about what someone else wanted or needed from me. “Can you help me with… Will you volunteer for… Are you available to show me… Can you give me… What should I do about… Will you read my… Can you help me… Will you write my… Will you listen to my… I want to tell you about my… Call me so I can ask you about my…” Just reviewing it was EXHAUSTING. And all of that was outside of the needs of my family. No wonder I was lonely. Most the people in my life don’t contact me because of me… they contact me because they want something from me. That is not to say they don’t care about me… I know some of them do… but wow…everybody wants some thing and allowing this to continue is SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF ME!!!!! And this was my own fault! Allowing people to need me or want me is a sick way for me to feel good about myself. This was an awakening for me. This was about self-care. This was about me looking at my defects in this area and figuring out how I had created this madness in my life. This was about me figuring how to work toward changing for the better. This was about me learning that I NEED to allow others to care for me too.
My therapist told me something recently that made me think. He told me that I seem to be a person who does a lot of good things with my life and time. In fact, there probably isn’t much that I do that isn’t for the “good” in some way. It felt nice to hear that… but he had more to offer. He said… “Good things are good… but maybe you need to start looking toward the GREAT things God has in mind for you, instead of the good.”
Being there for others is one of the main ways I achieve good feelings about myself. I mean it’s good to help others. It’s good to volunteer. It’s good to teach others. It’s good to give. It’s good to share my experiences. It’s good to listen. It’s good to answer. It’s good to reach my hand out. It’s good to walk next to others.
But being lonely is not good. Working for acceptance is not good. Continuing in one way relationships is not good. Never letting others care for me is not good. Allowing the life to be sucked out of me is not good.
So, I know what is good and I know what is not good… let me now ask myself…
What would be GREAT?
Great would be to feel good about myself and who I am just because I am Wendy; God’s daughter… a daughter who is able to receive just as much as she gives. Great would be to depend more on what God thinks of me than anything else. Great would be to feel like I am moving toward His plan rather than just staying busy.
I’m shooting for great now and it’s time for action. Self care has got to come first and the life suckers have to go! (I have a feeling it will be pretty easy to figure out who they are… for starters they probably won’t read this article.)
Ryan and I strongly believe God's new direction for our lives is for us to be foster parents. We are preparing for that with classes, prayer, community and lots of paperwork. I have to prepare for fostering personally by learning to take good care of myself so I can be the best darn foster parent I can be. Preparing for fostering has got to be my priority in life. To do that, I have to let other things go, no matter how good they are because God's plan for me to be a foster parent is going to be GREAT.