Had someone asked me this question about six months ago, I would have scoffed and said, “No, of course not!” assuming them to be a legalistic killjoy.
At that time in my life, I really needed some self-care. I needed to slow down my life, take more deep breaths and do all the other cheesy things those inspirational Pinterest quotes tell us to do. I’ll be generous with myself and say that the self-care was needed at the time, but if I’m being completely honest, I could have continued in that phase forever if life hadn’t delivered a rude awakening that caused me to consider where I was distributing my love.
I could have continued putting relationships on the back burner because I just needed to chill out. I could have happily skipped or bailed on social engagements in exchange for “me time.” I could have spent more money on face masks and nail appointments because “I deserve it.” You get the idea: the self-care was nice, but it wasn’t going to satiate my appetite for inner peace any time soon.
Then, a few months into my self-care phase, I received some shocking news. And I don’t mean that I was merely surprised or thrown a bit off my rocker; I’m talking the can’t-sleep-can’t-eat for days on end type of shock.
In a fairly short amount of time, I went through all the stages of grief for the people who delivered the news, but I found myself wanting to dwell in the “anger” stage longest.
From the rage of, how could they do this to me to the confusion of could I have prevented this, questions swirling through my mind made me want to recoil, retreat and run away from the individuals who prompted my emotional tailspin. Like that annoying kids’ movie playing on repeat in the dentist’s lobby, these accusatory and soul-sucking questions circulated in the background of my mind at all hours of the day.
In this current era, when we tell people that we are going through a hard time, especially if the difficulty is onset by someone else’s actions, the popular reaction is generally along the lines of, “well sometimes, you need to be selfish. You don’t have to interact with them if it makes you upset.”
I used to nod and smile at this type of advice, ready to cheer on whoever it was I knew who clearly needed to take a long cruise on the luxurious yacht called “Self-Care.”
Until I realized that this approach is the opposite of biblical, and too many Christians seem to have forgotten that.
Myself included, so many of us who are in crisis or in a situation with a loved one who has pained us are eager to throw Scriptures out the window in exchange for popular “self-love” sayings that are repeated so much they almost sound like gospel.
But they aren’t.
During that time of peak distress, I turned to God and the Bible for help, and in the pages where I had expected to find justification for my desires to be hands-off and passive, I found conviction about love instead.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with my unfailing kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3
“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1 Cor. 13:4
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
The Bible is full with verses about love, and the over-arching message is clear. It’s repeated over and over again so that we have no excuse to not understand how it works.
We are called to love always, not when it’s convenient for us.
We are called to love and draw onlookers into the kindness of Christ, even when those same people have upset us.
We are called to love through all circumstances, even when that means coming face to face with the person or problem that has pained us.
There are still many moments where I am upset about the circumstances I’m in, when I still want to run away because that’s easier than loving others. But one thing I am continually grateful for while walking through this valley is that it has convicted me to engage in a lot less “self-care” and a lot more selfless love.