One of Jesus' most important teachings that is important whether or not one is "religious" is simply: "You should love your neighbor as yourself." Those who claim both Judaism as well as Christianity as their faith base recognize that that teaching is rooted in the law of Moses, yet it has eternal truth that no one does well to ignore. Similar thoughts are encapsulated in the writings of other faiths as well.
Actually, in spite of the obvious, this thought is mostly about self-care, not about the other person. And self-care is a life habit that many of us in today's world have ignored or at best, given little credence to. We are all taken up with our busyness--home, work, families, friends, social obligations, trying to make a living that will stretch far enough to put gas in our cars and food on our tables and a roof over our head, keeping all the aspects of our lives somehow in balance. Who has time for self-care. Yet that is the important issue that can either make or break ourselves--can either keep us active and effective human beings or slowly erode our ability to be the people we hope to be.
The truth is: we cannot take care of others--including spouses, significant others, life partners, children, important friends--unless we take care of ourselves first. And along with that awareness is the fact that I--me, myself, I--am responsible for caring for myself, no one else. No one can fix me but me. No one can insure that I am healthy in mind, body, or spirit except me. And if I don't take that responsibility seriously, then I have nothing within myself to give to others.
I think we all admire people who have spent their lives giving to others. I have some of those dynamite people in my own family. Yet as I consider their open and giving ways, I realize that each one took time to care for themselves. They had boundaries. No matter how many demands were made of them, they knew how to use that simple little word "No." They knew their own limits and used their time and energy wisely and well. Because they kept their own inner wellsprings healthy and cared for, they had goodness and caring to share with others.
Honestly, my books are my haven. They always have been. Even when my kids were little, I am sure they will remember mom's "reading day." I would retreat to my bedroom with a stack of books--usually Harlequin romances--and that would be the lasts the family saw of me for hours. It restored me, gave me a mental vacation of sorts, and made it possible to face a household full of kids and the stresses of family and job.
So on this Holy Week, my prayer for us all is that we will back up just a bit, review our lives and the demands made upon us, especially those that are necessary and legitimate, and be open to the possibility that each of us needs to be more caring of ourselves. We all need to take time, a couple times a year, to review our priorities rather than feel like we are held hostage by work or family obligations. Vacations days are there to be used. Days off are for "R & R", not for other people to schedule our time or use it for their needs. Women are especially bad about that. So let's work on that -- it is a time of resurrection and the best life in the world to renew is our own. And doing so is the most unselfish, loving and giving thing we can do!!
Until next time . . .