Lately, I feel like I’ve been bombarded with requests to analyze my “former self.” You know, questions that ask: “Based on what you’ve learned, what advice would you give yourself at age twenty, thirty, forty, etc.”
I have had many “relevations.” (Please don’t call out our editor; that’s an intentional misspelling. It refers to those “ah-ha” moments that strike me personally as being noteworthy. However, to many, maybe even most, they may not equal true “revelation” status!)
For example: the moment I realized that my first two daughters—who were born eleven months apart—had distinct personalities. Thus, raising them alike would not yield the same or even similar results! Or when I learned I had been inserting bobby pins upside down for decades. Or when I grasped the understanding—in relation to fashion and home décor—of the phrase “form versus function.” And even more relevatory: when I made the transition to strive for the latter.
Since space is limited, I’ll just focus on the biggest lesson I learned in the past year: self-care is not selfish. In fact, more often than not, it transforms your relationship with those closest to you and enables you to be fully present to everyone around you.
For those serving in roles as caregivers—and that includes all of us in some capacity—self-care often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Compare simple acts of personal self-care like exercise, soaking in the tub, or making time to watch a TV show with those that may appear more indulgent like getting a massage or enrolling in a course to explore something you’ve always wanted to do.
We may assume committing time or money to ourselves alone somehow keeps us from meeting our obligation to care for others. In reality, the more content we are with ourselves, the more likely we are to live in the moment and share that sense of joy with people.
The same can be said for spiritual self-care. In order to fully evangelize others to the faith, we first have to make room for God in our own life. We’ve all heard the adage, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” This includes knowledge of, loyalty to, and affection for Jesus Christ. We can’t teach those lessons to others until we first learn them ourselves.
I’m certain there are parents, grandparents, and catechists who need to hear this message. We can’t effectively care for others without first tending to our own physical and spiritual needs—and even our wants.