By Lisa Huddleston

I have learned a great deal about listening to my body over the past few years.  A serious bout with depression will do that for a person.  Happily, and thanks to those who love me, I won that battle; but the dragon still breathes smoke and there are times when I struggle to clear the air.  As one would expect, the holidays and all the activity that accompanies them can be a very smoky time.  It is important for me to pace myself, to schedule alone time, to think and to write.

I know.  I know.  I have not been doing these things very well lately.  But some much needed time in the Word opened my eyes.  “For the commandments … are all summed up in this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  If I were to try that lately, my neighbor wouldn’t be very happy with me.  What if I paid no attention to my neighbor’s schedule, her needs, her wants, her passions and just ran in and out of her life whenever I chose?  I don’t think she would want to be my neighbor for very long.  One of us would have to go!

This greatest commandment is predicated on the assumption that we love ourselves well.  Yet, how many of us are doing that?  Are you making time to keep your body healthy by eating well and exercising?  Are you keeping your mind engaged in challenging thoughts and deep discussions?  Are you allowing yourself the privilege of rest?  Are you treating yourself as you would a much loved friend?

I tend to push too hard.  I push myself, and I want to push others.  Goals beckon me like the star called the wise men.  But wisdom is not always involved in my choices.  I am learning though.  I need peace.  I need rest.  In order to love my neighbor as myself and have it be a good thing, I must learn to love myself.

Choices.  It is all about choice.  I will not add another day to my volunteer job—yet.  I will allow myself an occasional nap—even though I feel guilty taking it.  I will write—there are thoughts I need to think.  I will make time for friends—not hoards but a few special ones.  I will listen to music and look at paintings and ponder poetry.  I will call for help when the smoke sends its sneaky tendrils into the corners of my mind and let others open the windows to the crisp, clear air of winter.

And I will love my neighbor as myself.