7 Hard Core Tips for the Christian Soul (when you're spread too thin)
Rose (name changed) was thriving for many years. She was volunteering, working, taking care of her family, and everyone else. Until one day when she wasn't thriving. She began having panic attacks, couldn't sleep or remember things. Rose, like so many others like her, crashed.
Taking care of others and having a servant's heart was what Rose was good at and enjoyed. What she forgot in the midst of caring for others was to care for someone else. Rose.
Does this resonate with you?
When I was in 12th grade I was in two plays, one was the lead and the other was a fairly big part. I was working and tackling schoolwork. I was a people pleaser back then and did not know how to get out of one or both of these plays (for the record, one of the plays was for church and the pastor just asked me. I did not want to be in it...but felt I had to).
Before the plays were open, I cracked.
I contracted mono, pneumonia, and Hepatitis A. I thought I was dying. In fact, I still wonder why I wasn't hospitalized. I missed at least a month of school along with the plays. In the midst of it all, I was SO relieved I did not have to memorize the lines of those characters.
I did not learn my lesson, however.
Years later my mom died (at age 49) and my brother was in a freak accident and was in a vegetative state. It was so unbelievably stressful on so many levels. During this time I was also in graduate school and worked full time.
I crashed. Again.
Why do many of us ignore ourselves?
There are 3 reasons I have observed.
1. There is a temperament type called Supine. The Supine type bends toward the idea that others are more important then they are. They also want to help people (which is a good thing!). Without the right balance, you can end up like Rose and me.
2. Sometimes life experiences have taught people that they are unimportant, but they must take care of others because that is all they are good for.
3. A person could also be a blend of Supine temperament and life experiences that shapes their view of self.
Taking care of self involves saying "no" to many things. It is much harder than it seems for so many. It was for Rose. She felt guilty if she said no and felt it was her duty to care for others. She felt she had to sacrifice herself because others were more important than her.
Rose needed to learn that self-care was for her. A part of this was learning to have boundaries and to say "no." She had to get over people-pleasing and start honoring herself.
Wait! Doesn't the Bible tell us to treat others better than ourselves? You bet (1 Corinthians 10:24). But Jesus also models that self-care is essential to sustain life. Look how many times He retreated away to be with God. He took the time to get filled up (from God) so He could give out.
How did Rose learn to do this? Let's take a look.
7 Hard Core Tips for the Christian Soul:
1. Learn your value.
Where do you get your information about who you are? People? Facebook? Magazines? I think most would say "yes!" to these. They have their identity tied up to the opinion of others.
News alert! Your value is not in the fickle mind of man.
Your value is of royalty. Your lineage is a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10). You are a saint (set apart--holy. Romans 8:27). You are the child of a King (2 Corinthians 6:18, Romans 8:14).
Now that you know your value, you have to believe it. Meditate on these holy scriptures.
Personalize it so it's meaningful. For instance, I would meditate on Romans 8:27 like this: And he (God) who searches MY heart knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for ME in accordance with the will of God.
I would read 2 Corinthians 6:18 like this:..and I will be a father to you, Kimberlee, and you, Kimberlee are my daughter, says the Lord Almighty.
Feel the differences when you say that?
So meditate on scripture this way. Scripture is living (Hebrews 4:12, John 6:63, 1 Peter 1:23). Allow God's whispers of truth to permeate your soul.
2. It's not just about you.
This was a hard lesson for me to understand. I used to be an enabler. I thought by doing other people's work I was a blessing to them. I am referring to the people that can do the work but don't want to (they have excuses). By doing the work they can do, you are enabling them.
Did you know if you help a butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die shortly thereafter?
A butterfly needs to struggle out of its cocoon to build up its strength to fly. Without this strength, it is too weak and will die.
Just like a butterfly, people need to grow. Growing is hard and often there is a great struggle. If we help people that are supposed to do the work, we are helping them stay stuck.
Sometimes we know someone that has many needs and they come to us allllllll the time to help out (because they know we will say yes). Maybe it's to drive their kids to practice or to handle their dogs when out of town. To do this once in a while is fine, but when it's expected and asked weekly, it's too much. You have a life, too. There are other people that need to step up and help. Or this family/person needs to find other solutions rather than you.
*Please know that I am not referring to people that are dealing with circumstances beyond their control. I am focusing on the people that over schedule or chronically do not have plans for their own lives and depend on others to help. All. The. Time.
Life is about all of us. It's not just about you to chronically help others when they can do for themselves or find other solutions.
It. will. Suck. You. Dry.
God may have several other people lined up to help your friend. But when you keep saying "yes" those others do not get a chance to fulfill their calling. Or God may want this friend to work together with their family to grow and find new solutions together because they need to. If you keep saying "yes", this does not happen.
What do you do??
Pray. If you see a need or are asked to help, ask the Lord what He wants you to do. Once you have completed #1 tip on this list, you won't have the guilt of saying "no" when needed.
3. Self Care.
This is where you take the time to care for all of you. Be mindful of how much time you are taking for you.
Are you reading a good book? Are you taking that bath with candles, music, and a glass of wine? Are you watching that t.v series you have been wanting to?
What are you needing? Write it down and plan it. If it's not planned, it will not happen.
When you were helping out everyone else, did you write it down in your scheduler? Yes? Your time is just as important.
Write. It. Down. Then do it!
4. Spend time with HIM.
Schedule time to read the Bible or books about God. Grow in your relationship with Him.
He is your Spiritual Father.
Don't you want to get to know Him? I mean, He is super creative, knows all things, is magical in the majestical spiritual sort of way, knows you better than you know you AND He wants to spend time with you.
5. Physical care.
When was the last time you had a physical? Get it done.
Learn how your body is doing then take care of your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 explains that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you are to honor God with your body. How do you think this happens?
What would you offer God if He were in your home? Twinkies and ice cream? Salad, fruit, and a delicious chicken dish? You would honor Him with things He created in the garden or created in the field, right? Honor your holy temple (a.k.a. body) with natural food.
Be mindful of how your body is running, what you are feeding yourself, and how you present yourself to the public. Our God of the universe is with you! Be honoring and respectful as best as you are able.
6. What Do Your Eyes See?
What your eyes see feeds your mind.
Do you have clutter everywhere? Do you watch porn (or something you would not want your kids to see)? What are you reading? What are you filling your mind with?
Take an inventory. Are you reading or watching things you don't want your friends to know about? Do you have piles of stuff everywhere? Do you learn about things to help you grow? To help you understand? To laugh?
The Bible directs us to think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, etc. (Philippians 4:8). Let this be your guide. If you find you are not having a lot of these good thoughts because of what you are watching or reading, start purging. Find new shows, new books, a "new something" to replace the "old something" that is not helping you.
Do you move enough?
I struggle with this one. A lot.
However, I have discovered a love of Pilates and walking. I usually listen to a Sid Roth podcast during my walks. They are all so interesting, it keeps me going.
My struggle is when I don't plan it. When it's planned, it usually happens.
Find something you enjoy then add music, a book, or a podcast to fill your mind with some good stuff. It will be a double whammy for your soul care!
Plan your exercise.
Start small and add to it. You may need to start at a minute, then add a minute the next day and go from there. Your goal is to get to 30 to 60 minutes a day. Since you will be completing tip #5 to get your physical, ask your doctor to give you exercise guidelines.
Now let's get back to Rose.
She is now doing well. Yay! She finds that if she does not take time for herself, she backslides in all areas of her life. Saying "no" is something she loves to say since it gives her peace knowing the world is not on her shoulders. It is nice knowing God has other people in line to help when she is not supposed to.
As for me, well I am very much like Rose. I have peace about saying "no" so I can say "yes!" to when I am called by God to fulfill needs. My mind is cleaner by filling it with more God positive stuff. If I watch too many murder mysteries or war crimes, I tend to get down and it is hard to focus on the beautiful and good stuff. I try to keep a good balance of what I let my eyes see and my mind absorb.
Action plan: If this post hits home with you, try these 7 hardcore tips. It is a process and will not happen quickly. So, take one hardcore tip at a time and spend a few weeks on it before incorporating the next step.
Cheering you on!