My sisters and I have been caregivers for our Mom for just over two years. And, given the seemingly ongoing challenges of being a caregiver, I realize that I have to handle it like a long-distance runner: I have to pace myself.
So, I opened my heart and mind to embrace what this experience was teaching and bringing to my awareness. This series of posts will share insights that emerged in my journey as a caregiver that I hope will prove as valuable to you as they have been to me.
Although everything that happens in life may not be all about you, it nonetheless is about some aspect of you when it includes you and/or impacts your life.
I do, however, understand what most people mean when they say “It’s not about you,” but it still bothers me a bit to hear it because few people ever explain what they mean. I get the fact that most people are referring to the bigger purpose behind a situation, but for people who are true helpers, givers and servants of Christ, that statement can be easily misunderstood and used to exhaust and abuse one’s self. Therefore, don’t underestimate or disregard how a situation impacts your life simply because you are not the one receiving direct care or requesting assistance with a problem. When you are in a supportive role is when your own selfcare is even more important because you are pulling from within yourself in order to give of yourself to another. And anytime you pull something out of yourself to share with others, you need to replenish yourself – and what you give needs to be a part of you that is actually available for giving.
Without a plan to replenish yourself and your resources, over the longterm, you could end up mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially bankrupt, which can make it even more challenging to be supportive to others and yourself.
Your own selfcare is your first priority because everything else you do hinges on your being well enough in the various areas of your life to do what you need, want or have been asked to do. Therefore, everything that affects you on some level is about you! So, you must provide care for your self before you can effectively and patiently care for someone else. Otherwise, it’s like giving others only the crumbs of ourselves when we are too exhausted, stressed and unhappy to do what we need to do in a kind, patient and loving manner. There’s nothing wrong with some crumbs occasionally if that works for you and all concerned in the interim.
However, the crumbs of life were not intended to be the norm for how we function day in and day out. We were designed to be balanced and whole, which require consistent cycles of work activity and self renewal in order to function at our very best. So before you “X” yourself out by making a situation ALL about someone else, consider your self-love life and whether you are loving your neighbor (others, including family and extended church family and friends) “as“ yourself or “instead” of yourself.
Note that loving your neighbor (others) as yourself requires that you first have some substance inside yourself to share. You’ve got to have some internal savings stored up. So it is out of the abundance of who you are and all that you’ve stored and poured into yourself that you give unto others. And after doing so, you refill and restore yourself so you’ll be ready to pour out again as needed.
On the other hand, loving your neighbor instead of yourself requires that you diminish your own importance in order to make someone else more important than your own self and wellbeing, or to make them look good and strong while making yourself appear weak and obsolete. This is what I referred to above as “X-ing” yourself out.
As you go through the days and weeks ahead, take note of if you are an “as-yourself” or an “instead-of-yourself” person. And if the latter, I would suggest spending a bit more time to find out who you are IN Christ rather than who you are outside or without Christ. It doesn’t make you a bad person by no means; it just makes you a person who hasn’t yet connected with his/her true value because when you know that you are worthy of admiration, you treat yourself differently, and as a consequence, you can have more meaningful interactions with others in your life.