By the end of May, I was in pain – emotional pain. Months of ministry and family stress had culminated to sleepless nights and very stressful days. The emotional turmoil had taken its toll and it had spilled over onto my physical and spiritual well being. I was a wreck.
Karen and I have a place in the North Georgia mountains. I discussed it with Karen and I spoke with my staff how much I needed to get away. Four times during the month of June, I escaped up to those mountains. A few weeks later, my family and I would embark on a much needed two week vacation up and down the coast of Georgia. The times retreated in the mountains helped me tremendously to defrag and regroup so I could enjoy our family vacation. When our family vacation was over, I was a new man.
The mountains were self-prescribed. No one told me to escape. Because of my experience in ministry, I knew the danger signs I was seeing in my own life and ministry. By the time I took my first trip up there, I was desperate enough for self-restoration. I was fighting for my life.
I have met a lot of people over the years who feel terrible guilty about self-care. Their sense of obligation to their spouse, kids, job, church and/or community piles on more unnecessary stress. The feel of letting people down plagues the mind while we at the same time are letting ourselves down. Self-care is selfish – extremely selfish. Yet, it is the kind of selfish that restores life and vibrancy to a emotional, physical, and spiritual dying soul.
Self-care is selfish – extremely selfish. Yet, it is the kind of selfish that restores life and vibrancy to a emotional, physical, and spiritual dying soul.
Is it selfish for airlines to persuade their riders to “place the oxygen mask over yourself first and then assist placing the mask over others”? No. Others will die if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
Your family will miss you. They will survive. Your job, church, and/or community will not like it but they will recuperate. The truth is if you died today, you would be easily replaced tomorrow. Yet, we kill ourselves trying to make everyone happy and content and trying to fill other’s expectation of our ourselves while dying a slow death.
James helped us understand the selfish matter when he encouraged:
Is anyone sick (physically, spiritually, or emotionally) among you? Let him call on the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of the faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up. James 5:14-15 (I added in the notes in the parenthesis)
The truth is when someone is sick, the person is centered on themselves. So self-centered, they lack faith and that is ok. It is why James encourages to call others. They will have the prayer of faith.
Don’t believe it? Let a large cement block fall on your foot and find out how selfish you will be. When you are sick, you are focused on yourself – your pain, your exhaustion, your hurt, etc. You are not to be prayerful or faithful. You simply are not.
That is why it is important when you are down, you tell someone. In my case, I shared it with my wife and my ministry team how unhealthy I was. I coveted their prayers and their understanding how I needed to go and take care of myself. It was their prayers and their understanding where the “Lord raised me up.” James 5:15
Feeling selfish when you are emotionally not well is absolutely alright. You don’t feel selfish when you take medication for high blood pressure or other health ailments. No, you proudly take it because you desire optimal health. You desire to be better. You want to thrive.
So let’s thrive. Whatever it takes – get counseling, take a vacation, go out with a friend, all three or more – do it so you can have the emotional health you need to not only survive but thrive. Be selfish and watch what happens as you embark on a much needed journey to health and wholeness.
I wrote another post about my summer experience here:
Here are other posts to encourage you in this season of your life: