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Proverbs 11:17 "The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh."We've flown quite often in the past 10 years or so, especially since we moved to Canada and our children have gone away to college. It's the fastest way to get where I want to be! We all sit on the plane as we wait to back away from the gate, listening (or not!) to the flight attendants' instructions concerning emergencies. One thing they always mention is, in case of loss of oxygen in the plane, to put on your own oxygen mask first, and then help any children around you with theirs. If you're not breathing, there's not much chance you'll be able to help anyone else!
And so it is with our everyday lives. If we're not taking care of ourselves, we can't take care of our families and minister to those around us.
I do happen to believe that many people seek to take care of their own needs first, including many wives and mothers, to the detriment of their families. I also believe that my calling in life is to take care of my husband, our children when they were home, and our home, and to work beside my husband in the ministry. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus taught putting others first, denying myself in order to serve them. Much of my life, though, I've been taught that putting others first means ignoring myself. However, I've come to see that if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to take care of others.
There's a fine line here. If I don't eat right, I'll gain weight, my diabetes will get out of control, and I'll be too sick to care for my family or work in the ministry. If I don't get enough rest, I'm too cranky to be patient with people and I hurt relationships by being short with them. If I don't take a couple of hours occasionally, with my husband's blessing, to do something by myself to recharge my emotional batteries, I get overwhelmed and discouraged, which affects how well I care for my family and do the work of the ministry.
I consider taking care of yourself to be taking care of your basic needs, such as good food in proper portions, getting some exercise, getting some spiritual refreshment each day, and getting proper amounts of rest. Sitting on the sofa all afternoon reading a novel is not what I'm talking about! I consider taking care of myself as doing the things for myself that I would do for my husband or children. When my children were young, I insisted they eat well and rest enough - I should do that for myself. I scheduled checkups for them. I saw that they took medicine when they needed it. We took our children to church and tended to their spiritual needs. I should do no less for myself.
There are times when we need to buckle down and give more time to others and forget about ourselves completely, such as when someone is sick or has to work overtime or there's a week of extra meetings at church, but overall, we can take better care of ourselves if we put our minds to it and make the time. You need to take care of yourself. You are the only YOU your family has!
So there is merit in taking care of ourselves; the very people we are trying to serve will be hurt if we don't. We'll be living Proverbs 11:17 - troubling our own flesh. So do take care of yourself, not putting yourself first for selfish reasons, but to ensure you're able to care for your family and whatever ministry God has given you, with God's help and blessing. Even Jesus and his disciples took times apart to refresh!
What are some ways you take care of yourself so that you can better care for others?