….for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6
These are my boys. The boy loves of my life. Some of their favorite words they use to respond to questions are: probably, maybe, “I don’t know”, or “what do you want”. When you hear those words you may think that they both have a fear of committing to something. But instead they just seem unable to decide. They both have spent so much time doing what others want, that they get stopped in their tracks when they are asked to decide something for themselves. When they are asked to decide on something that they want or need. Both of them will put aside their own wants and needs for those they love – without hesitation.
You may actually be wondering why this is a bad thing or why I’m even talking about this in devotions about self care. Well stick with me friends while I try to explain myself….
I truly believe that God created us to serve others, but I do NOT believe that he created us to continually please others whilst forgetting about our own self. We need to care for ourselves so that we can be at our best when we serve others. If we are continually putting ourselves on the back burner we will eventually succeed at being tired and worn down. We will be successful at being frustrated and impatient. We will no longer be the pillars of light that God created us to be.
When Moses was nearing the end of his life he needed to assure his community that it wasn’t a person they were solely to follow but God. That he indeed could not make the trip with them to the promised land but that Joshua would be there for them. He wanted them to be strong and courageous and to remember that God would be with them every step of their life. God wouldn’t be with them because they followed Moses. God would be with them because they were his children. That would never change.
Way back when we were 17 and 18 year old babies, my husband doted one me. He took care of me like I had never been cared for before. He trusted me to make decisions and so I did. Fast forward and we were newlyweds and then raising littles. I was quickly drowning in decisions and didn’t know how to ask for help. Instead I was frustrated and impatient, tired and worn down – which meant I was not nice to my husband. In turn that probably made him feel less like making any decisions because he was afraid at how I would respond. We had created an unhealthy circle of life.
Now that we’re raising teenagers and I’ve been to a therapist and I want to create a circle of healthy, I see where the wheels fell off the track way back when. You see, I took over the power of decision making and in turn took away the power of decision making from my husband. Where we should have been working together doing a little for each one of us instead was just me, myself, and I. You see, this type of behavior isn’t good for the long haul. It’s not good for the self care of either of us.
I have been known to tell my son that he IS entitled to his opinion. He doesn’t have to give in or give up all the time. That I didn’t want him to be used to that now, and go down a black hole when he finds a special someone to share his life with. I’ve started to make him decide what to make for lunch or where to go when we eat, to start him getting used to making some decisions. That he deserves to make some decisions.
God created each of us with individual likes and dislikes. And all of us deserve to choose a restaurant sometimes. All of us deserve to organize our closets the way that works for us. All of us deserve to read the books we choose or listen to the music we choose. All of us deserve to pick the classes that interest us.
My husband has been thinking about buying a Peloton for the family. He has one at work and has enjoyed using it. He came home one day and asked if I would use it. I wasn’t sure that I would and told him that. I enjoyed my workouts with weights and walks and treadmills and couldn’t commit at this time. Just a few evenings ago we were sitting on the couch and I told my husband that he deserved to have something at this house that he would enjoy. That it was okay for him to spend money on this piece of fitness equipment that he would use no matter if anyone else in the family used it or not. Because if he wanted it, and he would use it, that was enough.
Decisions are hard. They are hard to give up and they are hard to make. Self care is making decisions every now and then that are good for you individually. That we must not say “I don’t know” or “what do you want” any longer. We must boldly say YES and NO when needed. To be clear about your intentions and follow through with your decisions. To not be afraid or discouraged. That God will be by your side helping you be better for those around you. You don’t always have to please others to be a good person. Sometimes your no is exactly what someone needs to hear. Sometimes it’s okay for your family to eat scallops because you like them. Sometimes it’s okay for your family to hear that you’d love to get fried chicken takeout from a new place. Sometimes it’s okay for your family to watch a movie you’d love to see. Self care means caring for your choices just as much as you care for those around you.
What does decision self care look like in your life?
Have you taken the reins on decisions and thus removed the power from those around you? If so – take some time today to think about how you can give a little of that up. Ask someone else what they would like for dinner or what game they would like to play.
Do you have a difficult time deciding what’s best for you – is it hard to say yes or no or tell someone what you want? If so – take some time today to think about one thing that you want. Tell someone what that is. May be it’s learning something new, or wanting to join a book club, or may be it’s just as simple as not wanting to eat any more green beans!
Make self care a priority for you. Pray, find your community, and make some choices that are meaningful for you and your needs! The world will be greater for it!