When I was a life coach, one of the hardest things for most of my clients to believe was that taking care of yourself was not being selfish. It was actually the best thing you could do for yourself as well as for everyone who had to be around you. When you are well-fed physically and spiritually, you can give to others from the abundance of your life. When you are starving and puny, you may try to keep on giving, but your efforts will be mighty weak. And if you are anything like me, no one will want to be around you while you groan and whine and generally become a pain in the neck.
Naturally, that good advice is as easy for me to overlook as it was for my clients. In fact, if I am not super vigilant, I will allow too many activities to push me over my mental health cliff (always a short push!). For example, last Friday was Concrete Pouring Day. Yes, it deserves capital letters as it is a big deal around here. Chuck had spent all week preparing the ground for Friday, and I spent it worrying, I guess. Sure, getting the house ready for my son and his friends took some time. And going to the grocery store to load up on food for hungry workers took some more time. And cooking took some … well, you see where I headed.
I have a very low tolerance for busy-ness. I like to ease into my day with several cups of coffee, some good reading and then some good pondering. (Today is a good day!) Housework, tutoring, visits with friends, mowing, and other activities are carefully spread throughout the week so as not to stress me out too much. But I can’t always control my time as carefully as I need to and that’s when things (mainly me) get ugly.
I really do see how blessed I am. Not everyone has the freedom I do. And that knowledge makes me feel guilty and selfish. Just like my clients did. But as my dear husband pointed out recently, how terrible to have such a gift and then to reject it. Talk about selfish! He reminded me that God has placed me where I am and that my writing and availability to others are my work. And, despite my guilt and feeling selfish, I am starting to see what he means.
Yesterday I read a passage from the Book of Acts, and verse 3:15 appeared in neon letters: “And you killed the source of life whom God raised from the dead.” Jesus didn’t come as the expected Messiah should have. The people were looking for a Warrior King and instead received a Carpenter Rabbi. Instead of realigning their expectations to match what God had given, they stubbornly kept their misguided beliefs in place and killed the very source of life! And that is so often what I do. I devalue the gift of my “Quiet Life” and try to be what I am not–and sometimes I come way too close to killing the source of my life. The further away I move from where God has put me, the further I move from Him.
This morning’s readings reiterated that same truth: “In the same way a Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it. But even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam–he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts” (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis; emphasis mine).
I could never have acquired this life on my own–neither physically nor spiritually. God has put me where I am, here in a “Quiet Life” on Hudfarm, and it is my job to feed it and look after it. Thanks for the reminder, Coach.