Awhile ago, a wise supervisor asked an important question: Why isn’t it okay with you, to take care of yourself? He said it so gently, I almost missed it.
He was wondering out loud, so I could ask this of a client I had been discussing with him. But, it stuck with me, too. Honestly, it sounded a little goofy. I mean, of course I’m okay with taking care of myself.
Okay, maybe not always.
Like when I schedule my daughter’s doctor’s appointments but don’t do my own. Or, when I know that running helps my brain to click, but I let that slide because (well, because life). Or when connecting with the Lord allows me to feel like my most true self, but I make it a last priority.
Or, when I keep from speaking my needs because deep down a part of me still thinks they don't matter.
It made me realize that I had (and have) all these reasons why I don’t do what’s good for me. There are so many, aren't there? Time, money, energy, motivation, etc. But ultimately it came down to one main question. Why am I not okay with doing the things for myself that I actually need? If I could be intentional, the reality is I could pretty much always find a way to meet my needs.
If I want to.
It’s been several years since the question was posed to me, but it’s as relevant as ever. Because when I peel back all the layers, much of my desire to give myself what I need, begins and ends with me.
It's certainly not because my faith reflects I don't matter. It's not because important people in my life think it either.
It's me, or rather the critic in me.
How I treat myself, speaks volumes about how I view my worth. So, I can talk all day about my value, but if my actions don’t mirror it, I may not believe it.
I wish this were as simple as identifying this in myself and quickly changing; just recognizing that I’m neglecting myself and then doing it differently.
Unfortunately, it’s not. Or at least, not usually.
In fact, I’ve been working on it for 8 years, and I still have room for improvement. But, I’ll say this, when I cut through all the excuses, I realize and know there is holy work to be done in the space between what I know and how I act. This is the space where I can invite God to do the work that he is faithful to do, as we trust, as we wait, as we act in faith.
And if I've learned anything as a recovering perfectionist, it's that small changes actually matter. Yesterday, I may not have done what I meant to do, but I've learned I still have today. I can set aside the time, I can take the breath, I can enjoy my life right now. I can allow myself to be learner, even in the ways I care for myself.
How are you taking care of yourself these days? What allows you to be refreshed?