Take Care of Yourself

When your body suffers, so does your ministry.

Oh my. I’m sitting in my basement office in my pj’s and when I prayed and asked God for guidance for this post, those words came to me. I suppose God wants me to write about the elephant here in my room.

I’ve been struggling with a physical issue for a few weeks, and I haven’t been able to write a blog post because it felt draining to me. Just being honest. Writing a blog post like this, well, it’s been hard because I open up here in the hopes of helping someone out there.

Being honest about what we’re going through can be hard. Letting others see us without our game faces (or makeup!) can be so revealing, so cringe-worthy. We want to appear to be strong and sleek and on top of things. Not weak, pudgy, and falling asleep on the couch before it gets dark.

And yet when we’re not feeling our best or we’re battling something attacking our bodies, we are not able to perform at our best.

I remember when I used to run a long time ago when my knees would allow it. If I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream the night before, my morning run suffered.

Now if I don’t exercise, I struggle with brain fog and my entire body suffers. (I suppose I’ve been in denial thinking I can eat the way I used to when I was in my twenties and NOT exercise and nothing is going to change. Hello, reality!)

So it seems, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our ministry, our service to God and others suffer.

Your ministry might be spending time with your child and showing them God’s love through nature walks, volunteering at a food pantry, working long hours to put food on the table for your family, encouraging a friend, visiting someone who can’t venture out, writing stories of faith and hope, singing of God’s glory..the list can go on and on.

So, taking care of ourselves would not be a selfish act, but a way to honor God and to love others. And to be ready.

Be ready?

That’s right. When God calls us to expand our ministry or begin a new one, we’ll be excited and full of overall tingling anticipation—not drained at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Today, I’m taking the plunge into better health so my ministry won’t suffer and I can be ready. I’ve been here before and wandered off to My Own Way Lane where chocolate chips, potato chips, and bowls of frosting abound. But God is drawing me back. (Thank You, Lord!)

So what does this involve for me? Eating better (cue my grumpy toddler face), exercising (face contorted in pain), and a doctor’s visit (using wisdom here).

What about you? Are you willing to take care of yourself so your ministry can flourish and you can be ready when God calls?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)

“Be prepared in season and out of season.”

(2 Timothy 4:2b NIV.)

Rest

rest

It can be pretty tough when circumstances in life suck the energy out of you like a leech the size of a small pony while leaving your brain in a fog.

Maybe you deal with food allergies and certain foods the rest of the world seems to devour without so much as a yawn set you into a tailspin of brain fog that only gets deeper as your mind plummets out of control, landing you on the couch for one sickening nap.

Maybe it’s work related; you work awful hours.  Or maybe it’s an unrelenting illness you battle daily or because of the medication.  Or maybe, just maybe, you’re left alone to tackle your corner of the world and you run on fragments of sleep and doses of caffeine so massive even a polar bear would get the jitters.

Whatever the cause, brain fog can be like pulling a tight, wool hat down over your face and walking around in a state of half-air, half-light.  Really, half YOU.  You can’t focus, can’t see straight, can’t remember what you just did or what you need to get done, and you feel drained on the inside of your brain somewhere.  Oh, and don’t forget to strap a miniature, yet just as hefty, sumo wrestler to each of your legs so you can get the full physical effect of your exhaustion every time you take a step.

It seems I lugged my sumo wrestlers around nearly all last week.  I know they like to jump on my feet and plop right down for a ride when I don’t eat right.  But I found out they also insist on tagging along when I switch to eating healthy foods too.  I started on a journey awhile back to take better care of my body (see the post, A New Journey) and getting my body acclimated to healthy foods was like sending my brain off on a cruise to the land of la-la where the fog hovered for days and the sumo wrestlers invited their friends to join in for a piggy back ride.

But here’s a thought:  God made our brains so of course He understands brain fog.  He understands exhaustion.  He really does.  And He makes a way through the fog and the weariness to get to us.  And He also knows how to peel off those sumo boys sitting on our feet.  It’s called:  R-E-S-T.

Wait a minute, did I just write that?  Are we actually supposed to rest when we don’t feel mentally “all there” or physically drained?

You bet we are.  I’m not saying you pull the school bus over and tell the kids to walk the rest of the way to school because you need a five minute power nap.  What I am saying is go easy on yourself and find time, no MAKE time, to rest.  Ask for help.  Tell so-and-so “NO” that you can’t do this-or-that today.  And don’t you dare feel guilty, my friend.

We all need moments of rest.

Even Jesus rested.  Do you remember He was sleeping in the boat during the storm before He was awakened to calm it?  (Matthew 8:23.)

But perhaps you have a house full of tornadic toddlers and a stack of laundry up to the ceiling fan and the idea of rest is as foreign to you as a moon rock, and actually, when you think about it, you’d like to tell me a thing or two just for bringing it up.  Wait!  I’m on your side.  And more importantly, God is on your side.  So talk to Him.  Pray.  (And I’ll be praying for you too.  See, I told you I’m on your side.)

That’s right.  Pray and ask God for help.  Right there while you’re driving home on fumes (not talking about the gas either) or mashing the potatoes or scrubbing the dishes.  Go ahead and cry in the sink of dirty dishes and let God hear how tired you are, how you want your mind back, your energy back.  Guess what?  He already knows.  He would never burst into your life and try to take over, but He will come when you call and sometimes in surprising ways.  Maybe a neighbor will stop by with a slow-cooker full of sloppy joes and an offer to babysit for the afternoon.  Ah, glorious naptime.

And just so you know, slowing down or resting is not a waste of time; something to rush out the door like an unwanted guest who will only embarrass you if your friends stop by.

Do you think receiving a blessing from God is a waste of time?  Well, if you don’t take care of YOU, why would He give you another blessing you might choose to ignore?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV.)