How do you think of yourself? Strong? Responsible? On top of things? The one who can and does take care of things? The one others come to when they need the job done?
Shauna Niequist, in her book Present Over Perfect, describes herself as having been all of the above. She got things done and more and more people recognized this fact. They expected it of her and went to her. And she said yes, time and time again, until she couldn’t anymore.
Shauna didn’t want to have to admit to being weak or unable to do something. She didn’t want to think of herself as someone who needed self-care. But she suddenly was faced with the fact that she wasn’t Wonder Woman. Shauna didn’t want to admit to being fragile, she was afraid people would think less of her.
It was that word fragile that caught me off guard as I listened to the book on Audible in my car. Something about the word triggered tears immediately. I can relate to Shauna in being “the responsible one.” I always want to be the one who will come to the rescue and take care of things. I relate to her also in the exhaustion she felt and her feelings of being above self-care.
You see, I have to admit it is hard for me to say I am fragile. It’s difficult to say it to those around me and it has been difficult to talk with the Lord about it. It wasn’t ok to be needy, somehow that is what I learned in life.
It takes coming to a place where you have no choice, where you really can’t do it anymore, whether it’s for physical, mental, or emotional reasons or maybe for all three. And at that point you just have to stop.
This is when you begin to wrestle with the reality of not being super-human. This is when you begin to try to figure out how you really need to take care of yourself with intentionality. You admit you are fragile and needy.
The word self-care begins to be a reality of day-to-day living. I began by making a list of what kind of self-care I thought would be beneficial. The list went something like this: sitting quiet on the patio. spending time petting my bunnies, taking time to journal to work through issues or to just ramble about what I am thinking about, reading a chapter, actually giving myself permission to do it when my to-do list is not completed. Watercoloring and creative journaling also made the list. There were many things on my list. The issue was learning to relax.
The way I went about it is I decided to add a few of these ideas to each day’s to-do list. But that really wasn’t a good idea because it added pressure for me to, seemingly, have even more to do. This made me more anxious and frustrated. I seemed to be accomplishing less and continually feeling more stressed out.
It was only recently that I came to a very important realization. Self-care is not something you add to your list, it is a way of life. It is similar with going on a diet. Going on a diet is futile because it means at some point you will go off of the diet and end up at the same point you were before or maybe worse. So it is with self-care, it needs to be a mindset for life.
- Self-care is giving yourself ample time to accomplish the tasks you need to do.
- Self-care is limiting what could be an endless of to-do’s to what is realistic for the number of hours you have.
- Self-care is asking for help.
- Self-care is choosing to stop when you need a break, not because it’s on your to-do list but because you recognize you need it.
- Self-care is about being real, being transparent with others about what you can and can’t do.
- Self-care is sharing your fragility with the Lord. Telling Him the truth about how broken, needy, and overwhelmed you feel.
This last one is the most important. We need to seek the balm of the Lord’s love and the words of His wisdom in order to go on. He already knows we come from dust. He already knows our weaknesses. It is nothing new to Him. And I am sure that it must make Him sad to see us in our personal pressure cooker’s struggling through life. You know how you feel when you recognize someone you love is in need but they haven’t come to you for help. You just want to show them love by being there for them. God’s love for us is so much greater than that, He wants to be our all-in-all. So, we need to remember to take our fragile selves to Him in prayer.
If you look in my prayer journal you will frequently find prayers of desperation like the one that follows. I pour it all out to Him.
Lord, I am fragile. I can’t do it all. I get frustrated and overwhelmed. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop or how to take care of myself. You see me. You know my struggles. Lord, help me to let go of the need to prove myself, to myself or to anyone. Help me order my day in a way that I find balance and rest. Lord, help me to talk with others about how I feel fragile. I need to ask for help. I need to set some to-do’s aside for a season. Lead me in wisdom in choosing who I share with and what I set aside. I ask this of the One who knows the depth of my neediness and loves me more than anyone. In Jesus name. Amen.
I am starting to tell people that I am fragile, maybe not using that word, but by saying “I can’t” or “I need.” I am telling the Lord. I need to take care of myself, it is a way to honor the Lord. He gave us our bodies and this life as a gift. Won’t you share your fragility? Be authentic. Be open about where you are at. Be Present over Perfect.