Self-care is not Selfish!

I read a wonderful book during the last two weeks. It is a revolutionary thought for many of us who may be, or have attended church for years, working so hard to be spiritual, but continue to struggle in our relationships. It doesn’t even have to apply just to those of us who attend church, or seek spiritual growth; it could just as well apply to those of us who are very successful. You might find yourself at the top of your career, walking tall and confident in your office, only to come home each day and find your world is still…messy.

The book’s title, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, is exactly its point. You cannot have a spiritually mature life if you are not emotionally healthy. (Duh – how did I miss this??) The book resonated with me so much because I did exactly that – I worked very hard to be spiritual while neglecting emotional health.

The author, Peter Scazzero said he did too. He lists the top ten symptoms of Emotional Unhealthy Spirituality in the second chapter including:

1.       Using God to run from God
2.       Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness and fear
3.       Dying to the wrong things
4.       Denying the past’s impact on the present
5.       Dividing our lives into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
6.       Doing for God instead of being with God
7.       Spiritualizing away conflict
8.       Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
9.       Living without limits
10.   Judging other people’s spiritual journey

Like him, I avoided conflict because I thought that’s what peace looked like. For years, I have ignored my ‘ugly’ emotions, like anger, sadness and fear, to the point that I lost what it was to feel. I twisted God’s desires and goals for my life, leading me to ‘act’ for God. And I lived without boundaries, thinking that it was Christian to give and tend to others to the point of exhaustion.

In the book he quotes Parker Palmer who said, “Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

God made us each uniquely in His image. Why do we find so many ways to avoid being ourselves? God gave us all our feelings, why don’t we figure out how to use them in a healthy way? God gave us a mind and a voice to protect our hearts and our beliefs, so why don’t we speak up? This book and its passion towards balanced health could be the wakeup you need to see what you’re missing!

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