The Bible says that there is a time for everything, and preaches the message of balance in our lives. In Christianity, we are taught to deny ourselves, and humble ourselves, putting God and others first. This message is important in a world filled with self-centred people who spend 99.9% of their thinking space on “me, myself and I”. Even their occasional selfless thoughts, when examined, can expose very selfish motives.
For example, the concept of doing to others as you would have them do to you can actually mean that we only do good to get good in return or reduce the likelihood of bad things happening to us. People who give to charity, help the poor or show kindness to their neighbours can do these things with self as the main beneficiary. These acts may make them feel better about themselves, help them sleep in their cosy beds at night, fuel their hopes of going to Heaven when they die, or simply make them feel more secure about their lives on Earth (now there’s one less child on the street on the track to becoming a criminal).
We try to minimize how much we think about ourselves and we try to pretend that we are much more thoughtful, considerate or humble than we really are. Some of us are even so tormented that we get joy out of being victims or martyrs. We believe there is more glory in the suffering servant, as we try to bear our own cross (and self-imposed crosses), and forget that Jesus was also a joyful servant.
However, there is also a time to think about oneself and to do things for yourself, without feeling guilty! Everybody knows the second most important commandment: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. We acknowledge the first part without understanding the second.
Jesus didn’t say we shouldn’t love ourselves. Love of self is natural, it’s so easy that it would be a wasted commandment. Jesus recognizes that we do and we should love ourselves, but mandates that we also must love our neighbours with EQUAL intensity. But, how well would you love your neighbours if you treat yourself like the house dog?! I fear you might come to resent them.
Women, I’m talking to you most especially. Mothers, do you care for yourself? Do you look after your needs? Because you’re no good to those you care for if you’re on the verge of breakdown from self-neglect! A sick doctor is of no use to anyone. Even on a plane, the principle is “put on your mask before you assist someone else”.
It could be that I’m the only one who needs a reminder of my worth, and perhaps this rant is for me only. But if anyone else feels that they’ve put themselves on the back burner for too long, I encourage you to rise up for air. You deserve to live too. You are also important. Jesus died for YOU too. The people you love need you alive and well and happy too!
Before you get yourself checked in to hospital or the psych ward or are dragged to court, take some time to attend to your personal needs. Drop everything if you must, because when you try to keep everything going against sanity, sickness or death may make that decision for you.
There’s a time to care, a time to share, a time to give and a time to live…
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