Take Care of Yourself, Too

She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
~Proverbs 31:22

All of the verses in this passage so far have been predominantly other-centered. She’s serving, serving, serving, and then serving some more. Before the sun comes up, and after the sun goes down, our Jewel is working. Many might argue that this is an archaic picture of womanhood, that this chapter was written by men for men in a sexist society where women were treated as mere chattel, that it is irrelevant and outdated at best and unhealthy and repressive at worst for the modern woman.

I disagree. I think this model is exactly what we need. 

In a society obsessed with self, with immediate pleasure, with feelings and happiness and ease and luxury, and with making much of nothing, the very LAST thing any of us needs is more lies coming from the enemy who’s trying to get us to love ourselves above all else. For that reason, I LOVE the emphasis placed on serving others. I need it. I am inherently and obsessively selfish, and I need to be stretched and challenged to see myself and those around me with an eternal perspective. A model like this may be ancient, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Wisdom is timeless — why else do even the non-religious study ancient thinkers?

This little verse, tucked in between so many verses about how she pours herself into others, shows us that Jewel is not a door mat. She’s not some Cinderella toiling away in tatters. This woman knows that taking care of herself is a necessary part of taking care of her family.

So what about us? Let’s think about what we need to do to take care of ourselves — and I’m not talking about a day at the spa! You don’t really need that! What do we need to be healthy, whole, and able to be fully present for our husbands and children? Different people may have slightly varied lists, but here’s a fairly general one:

  • Alone time — first and foremost to be spent in the Word and in prayer. Secondly, you should be able to spend at least some time on a regular basis doing something that you love. For me, that’s reading and writing. I don’t get a ton of time for that second thing, but I get it sometimes. That’s good enough for now. 😉
  • Sleep — really. Just Google how important sleep is. Lack of sleep can affect your health, your mood, your functionality, the length of your life… you name it. You need sleep. Now, since I have about a year and nine months of motherhood under my belt, I do recognize that there are seasons of life when regular and restful sleep is impossible! However, it should be a priority over most things except hands-on care of little ones or sick ones. If you’re staying awake very late for the dishes, or to read, or to check Facebook, go to BED! These can wait, but the health of your body cannot.
  • Healthy food and exercise — you need to be alive and healthy in order to care for your family. Obviously. (And yes, this is one of my biggest struggles.)
  • A support system — family and friends who love you and encourage you. This is vital. You need people who will kick you in the pants when you need it, and also who will remind you to stop getting down on yourself; yes, you are a *great* mom.

For me, most of my life revolves around cutting up and microwaving food, wiping nose and bottom, playing peek-a-boo, holding hands to practice–practice–practice walking, making bottles, singing, saying “no,” tickling, redirecting, ignoring tantrums and trying not to laugh, picking up toys… you get the idea. It’s not about me, and it’s easy to either get “woe-is-me” about that reality (read: to mourn because I am unable to be as selfish as I please), or to do the opposite: to completely lose myself in it. Neither is good for anybody. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of others.

Notice that doesn’t mean that I take care of myself *before* or *instead of* taking care of others. There’s a difference.

But it is true — If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, find a woman with a true servant’s heart, and then be sure to encourage her to take care of herself, too. Surprise her with the type of gifts she would never give herself sometimes, while still finding ways to honor her heart’s desire to serve others. I pray for a woman like that for you!

My Love, you have been so encouraging through the years as I’ve very slowly been learning how to balance taking care of others and taking care of myself, too. (I’m slower than molasses on a glacier sometimes…) I certainly can’t say that I regularly neglect care for myself, but if I ever do, you’ve always been quick to encourage me to rest. On the flip-side, if I get a little too me-centered, you sweetly encourage me in the other direction, too. I’m so blessed to have you as my compass!

My Lord, thank you for this beautiful reminder in Scripture that it is never Your desire that we be so extremely other-centered that we fail to care for ourselves. You say to love our neighbor as ourselves, not to love them instead of ourselves! Our bodies are temples of Your Holy Spirit, and as such, we must care for them physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Help us all to find that balance of honoring You with our bodies, but also of serving others before ourselves, and help us to continually look to Your Son’s perfect example.

♥ ♥ ♥


(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

One of My Most Important Posts Ever. (So Please Read It!)

This past Saturday, May 25, was National Missing Children’s Day.

Angela Blog PosterIf you have been following my blog in recent days, you know that I was that child. From the age of four to the age of twelve, I was missing. I was on those posters; I was on Unsolved Mysteries; if it were today, my picture would be circulated on Facebook for sure. But then after I was found, I felt more lost than ever, for reasons I’ve written about on this blog.

I remember a few years back I was talking to my brother, and I said to him in frustration that I wish I’d been in counseling for longer when I was a teenager; even though I resisted it and hated it, I really needed it. And he answered, “What could that counselor have done for you? What could anyone have done for you? Nobody knew what to do.” That’s true, and that’s the problem. No one knew what to do for me; nobody knew exactly what I was struggling with or how to help me heal from it, and I had no idea how to ask for help. So during what is just normally a really rough stage for everyone – adolescence – I also struggled with issues of identity, trust, fear, depression, anger – and those struggles continued well into adulthood. There just simply was no one who knew what to do.

But now, that has changed. Now there are people who know what to do. There’s a whole organization of people who are like me, who were taken by a family member away from other family members, and they have worked together with mental health professionals to amass a body of research uniquely relevant to our experiences. From that research was birthed a training program with tools for parents handling abducted children. The organization is called Take Root, and the training program is called Kid Gloves. Now comes the request.

It’s extremely rare for me to ask for money, but I am asking for money. Two hundred thousand children every year are the victims of family strife and are taken into hiding by a family member. If we do the math just from the year I was taken through 2012, that’s 5,400,000 kids.

FIVE MILLION, FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND little boys and little girls like me.

And that’s 5,400,000 kids who carry with them the weight of depression, fear, mistrust — all of the struggles I had and still deal with — but their families and counselors were and are simply ill-equipped to help them heal. A program like Kid Gloves can save years of pain. So, I’m asking you to give a few dollars.

I know, it’s frustrating and annoying when people ask for money, but I would ask you: how much do you spend to get your hair done? How much for your morning coffee on the way to work every day? What about lunch, or a soda every day from the breakroom? What about shoes or ice cream or thrift store shopping just for fun?

And how much have you given this year to help children who are in deep pain?  

Two hundred thousand kids every year. They’re dying inside. I’m just asking you to give a little bit. Money’s tight, I know. It might be a sacrifice. But what if it were your kid? It was me, and nobody knew how to help me. But now they do. Please help!

“Finding a missing child is called making a recovery, but being found is really just the very first step on a long and difficult road. It’s often not the happy ending people imagine.”
– Melissa Haviv, Executive Director Take Root

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