How many times do we run ourselves into the ground with compassion fatigue – burning ourselves out because we are always putting others first? While we were put on this earth to serve others, we also need to establish healthy boundaries in our lives, ones that allow us to love and show compassion to “me” as well as to other human becomings.
It is when our cup runs over – from being full – that we have something to pour into the lives of others. Part of the practices that we need to adopt include recognising the importance of “Sabbath” – which does not have to be Saturday. Or Sunday. The gift of the Sabbath was instituted for us to rest, to restore & to heal. As we take time away from the busy activity, whether it to be in prayer & silence, or just to enjoy nature, we are reminded of God’s love for us.
“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 to others.”~Parker Palmer
If I imagine that my body is a temple – because that is what we are told it is – how well am I looking after this temple? What food am I offering it? What drinks do I give it? How well do I take care of this temple?
If someone came and did an inspection of my temple, would they find it healthy? Or falling down & crumbling? Is it in a sad state of repairs?
I’m by no means saying that our temple needs to be ornate, with golden brocades or lavish extravagance – but rather that our temple should be well-nurtured. We are custodians and stewards not just of things in this life that have been given into our care, or our children, or others in our community – but we are also the stewards of this “space suit” that we call our body.
Selfishness is a lack of consideration for others – a focus on “my profit” or “my pleasure”. Self-care, on the other hand, means taking care of my daily needs. Do I show myself the same amount of love & care that God shows me?
It means that I will give the world “the best of me”, instead of just “the rest of me”.
I can’t give others what I don’t have. When I struggle to put myself first, I am offering others my depleted energy. I may be living to satisfy their needs – and doing something that drags me down, rather than something that inspires me And so I am simply going through the motions, rather than passionately serving.
We are asked to give ourselves to God – as a living sacrifice. I don’t think this meant that we were to offer a tired, burnt out sacrifice. But rather, the best parts – the first fruits. When we fail to look after ourselves – we are just giving from the dregs of the barrel. By failing to look after ourselves, we are not honoring the gifts we have been given.
To truly serve others, I need a full cup – one in which I don’t have brain fog, exhaustion and burn out. How many problems am I creating, rather than serving, by ignoring my body’s need for rest and self-care?
Loving thoughts come from a loving heart. How loving is your heart when you are exhausted? Are you choosing how much you give to others? Or are they choosing how much they take from you?
Does your love of others sound like “should”, rather than “can” or “choose to”? Can you say “no” or are you obligated to love them, from an empty heart?
When I am anxious – tired – am I giving the best of me to others in a loving way?
Or is it time for me to establish healthy boundaries? Am I taking responsibility for other people’s feelings – not simply serving them, but now somehow obligated to make them happy?
Am I attracting people into my life that simply want to control me?-Ask yourself this-
Maybe that’s because I am living my life from a place of pleasing others, rather than actually serving them.
When love & compassion are my priorities, rather than simply “serving” others – I recognise that I need to truly love them. It’s not about what I DO for them that matters. It is that in what I am doing I am being compassionate. I am reflecting love in my thoughts, in the way I treat them, and how I interact with them.
How many times is my concern – what will they think? If I am more concerned with how others view me and think of me, rather than my true motives for serving, then I have gotten lost within my service to others! Is this JUST about my ego? Am I simply avoiding “looking bad” – because I am not “doing” something? Do I serve from a place of obligation or guilt?
That is not operating from a place of love & compassion!
Guilt & obligation are not love! Love is not vain, conditional or defensive. It is not trying to keep up appearances. It is not busy living up to other people’s expectations.
For many of us, we have yet to learn that self-care = sanity… It is essential. It may even be survival.
Prayer & Silence
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed
What better example can we find than that of Jesus. Throughout the gospels we read that he regularly (morning & evening) withdrew from the crowds and the hustle & bustle – and found somewhere quiet to be in silence and prayer. He regularly said “no” to the moment and the demands, so that he could say “yes” to silence & prayer.
His priority was to fill his cup – to connect with Creator & Source.
Is your soul-care overlooked?
Or are you placing yourself regularly in a place for renewal & regeneration? We are nourished by time spent in silence & prayer – by carving time & space in our life for self-care.
My cup runneth over
As you learn to take care of yourself, you have more to give to others. As I already mentioned – you cannot give what you don’t have.
The goal of self-care is refilling – constantly refilling the cup, so that it is running over – and there is always more to give to others.
- not empty
- not exhausted
- full of energy
Imagine a store that forgets to restock its shelves. How long before it is sold out and out of business? Why are you failing to restock your love & compassion supplies? Are your cupboards bare from so much giving?
The Sabbath = a day of rest. A time for simply “abiding” – connected to Source & Substance.
The Sabbath was made for man.Mark 2:27
The Sabbath is meant to renew and sustain us. The Sabbath is all about healing & well-being.
We are not exercising wisdom when we fail to care for our temple: when we continue to push on in spite of being hungry, tired, hungry or exhausted.
It’s not heroic to burn out!
We are told to “rest in the Everlasting” – that’s somewhat different from resting in your To Do list. We are not running a race to see who can do the most on earth!
When was the last time you asked yourself – “what keeps me well?”.