“Selfcare, though important, is not why we exist, and feeling good about ourselves is not the prize” Sharon Hodde Miller, Free of Me
This is hard.
So hard in fact that I have been avoiding sitting down to write it for a while… Like 6 months. Early in the summer I was scrolling through social media and I started to see #selfcare. Like suddenly noticing all the red cars when you get a red car, selfcare was everywhere. Every book, podcast, blog post and instagram pic everyone was speaking about the importance of selfcare. The need for it and that the root of all our problems was that we weren’t getting enough of it. There were entire companies built on the premise of self care. Books being written about it. I started to feel left out because I was not doing it!
Self care seemed like the magic bullet to all of the problems that women were facing, that I was facing, that all I needed to feel better was to take care of myself. Please hear me, I understand and appreciate the importance of taking care of yourself. Of creating space to regroup, heal and clear your mind so you can be whole and have the ability to be your best for the ones you love in your life. That there can be no push without rest. What I am talking about is the selfcare that becomes the goal in itself. The endless focus on myself and my happiness that made me pause and think.
We are told from when we are young to believe in ourselves. That the goal is to be happy. To feel good about ourselves and that we must always be doing something about it to make ourselves feel better. Dozens of books giving us 10 step programs to feel good and believe we can do anything. I know because I have probably read all of them. Believe more, take care of yourself, spend time thinking about what you need to feel better and do it. That is how you will feel better. I believed it, but when my life fell apart I found it extremely hard to believe in myself. The shame, the pain and the betrayal was huge. Nothing I did made it better. No amount of selfcare worked. I felt lost, overwhelmed and confused. “Why cant I be happy” I would cry into my journal each morning. “All I want is to be happy”. I don’t know what made the switch click in my head, maybe it was God just getting tired of my complaining that He made the quote above blink in neon lights when I read it. but it wasen’t until I stopped focusing on me and started to focus on others that I felt the beginnings of joy in my life.
You see I am learning that God never promised us happiness. In fact He told us that we would have painful times. He never said that we would feel better if we focused on ourselves, He said we would feel better if we turned to HIM. Ultimately it is not about me. It is about Him and others in my life who I am called to love. I learned first hand that it is only when I turn my attention outward not inward that I can begin to see the incredible world that is around me. On the day I was fired from my job I went to a women’s meeting with ladies from my church, when all I wanted to do was climb into bed and feel sorry for myself. I went to the home of someone I did not know and listened while they spoke about their lives. It was like a light went on and the blinders suddenly came off. I was not alone on the island of me. When I focus on others, when I see my life as full instead of lacking, when I realize that I am not alone, that is the selfcare I need. When I remember all of the promises that God has made to me that I can find space, smile and let go of the fear and anxiety that was taking over my life.
So what is the prize. If it is not to feel good about ourselves what are we here for?
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Corinthians 9:24
To me the prize is to live a life like Jesus. To love God and to love others and to be obedient to what God wants me to do. This is a big prize one that I struggle and mostly fail at each day, but I start over each morning and believe that every step of the race God is with me.
So as the quote in the beginning of the post states, selfcare is important, if you are not taking time to take care of you it will catch up to you. But when the act of selfcare becomes the focus, the need to think about ourselves and our own pleasure and indulgence become what we work for that is when we have missed the mark. When we have forgotten the real prize. I desire to stay in the race till the end with Jesus and get the ultimate prize.