The Grace of Self-Care

I hate being sick. I hate the chills. I hate the tiredness and the aches and the pains. I hate the medications that tear up my stomach and I hate the time it takes to rebuild my digestive system from the damage of the meds. I hate feeling dirty or oily or whatever I feel because I took a shower and laid on the couch all day with wet hair.

Sigh.

What I have discovered though is that there is some blessing in being sick. I have learned that I only get sick when I’ve done something that was not careful for myself. I hugged the snotty kid Sunday and forgot to wash my hands after. I drank one too many glasses of wine. I ate one too many helpings of the rich, wonderful food that was served to me. I didn’t rest enough. I didn’t take my vitamins. I allowed myself to become dehydrated.

Any one or all of these things can knock me down and serve as a wake up call to self love. I can not be a blessing to my family and my friends if I am not caring first for myself. God has trusted me with an amazing husband and two beautiful children who need me. He has put me in a place of leadership in ministry where I have a role to fulfill. If I don’t care for myself then I fall. So the blessing of sick comes with the reminder that I am a beloved child of God who needs to be treated with love and respect.

Our American culture puts so much power in the idea that we have to be busy, over-scheduled, rise-to-the-top women who can do it all. We work through the coughs and the aches and we power on. What if we slowed down a bit though? What if we took a moment in the morning, before our feet hit the floor, to thank God for his goodness? What if we took the extra few minutes to feed ourselves a healthy, nutrient rich breakfast? What if we slowed down enough to breathe?

When I do these things I bring a level of health to my family. I bring richness and peace because I am living in richness and peace. I wish I could say I do it well all the time. If I did I wouldn’t be typing this from my couch with a low-grade fever. But I am choosing to give myself enough grace to say, “Yes, I got sick. I will take the time I need to heal. I deserve that. My family deserves that.” And I will choose to live in the richness of that grace as I move forward. I will remind myself to rest. I will nudge the plate away when my belly cries out in fullness. I will avoid the foods that cause distress and I will exercise – not to be skinny but to be strong and energy filled. I will keep hugging the snotty kids but I will remember to wash up afterward.

There is no nobility is living a life of chaos. It always catches up with us. For me, it shows up like strep throat and mono. For you it may be acne or indigestion or high blood pressure. God has given us bodies that cry out when we don’t love ourselves; when we don’t care for His creation with gentleness. Imagine the peace and health in our homes if we chose to live lives of peaceful care.

So today I say no to the extra commitments. I’m turning down the add on calendar events. I’m not going to be Wonder Woman today. I’m going to allow my body rest in order to heal so I can be “Wife” and “Mom” in the best way I know to be.

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