Love Your Neighbor as Yourself…

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself…

February is always an interesting month. It’s a time characterized by expressions of love for our spouses, significant others and love interests. Children are often encouraged in school to create and give Valentine cards to teachers, fellow classmates and parents during this festive season. While this season is a happy time for many, there are those who dread this season because it can be reminder that they are without a special person to whom they can share the difficulties and joys of life.

While, I share this time with my husband of 22 years and my three teenage children, this month is also a reminder to me that I am not only called to love others but I am also called to love myself. Before you stone me, I’m not talking about selfish ambition or a life filled with self-centered activities and desires.

Self-care is one of my personal values that is expressed in the way I conduct my daily affairs, manage my daily responsibilities as well as those special things I do to reward myself for the hard work and energy I put into caring for others. Being a wife, mother, pastor, business owner, college professor, coach, mentor, professional speaker and community leader, you can imagine that my life is pretty full. However, with all that I am called to be and do, I do not fail to put myself in the equation of the things that are really important. In fact, if I am not at the top of my “to-do list” all of things that I am gifted to do will greatly suffer.

I can always tell when I am operating on fumes or when I need to rest by pulling away for a time of retreat or refreshment. Let’s see if you are something like me: In those times where my soul is depleted I’m extra-sensitive, teary, moody, snappy or just plain old tired. When I overload my schedule or over-commit myself, I begin to regret that I have done so, I waste precious time fighting feelings of guilt and I do not enjoy my work as much as I should. What’s even worse is that I begin to drop some of those balls I’ve been so good juggling, forgetting appointments and my work lacks the excellence and professionalism that it requires.

What does self-care look like for me? My self-care routine takes on many forms. It includes, exercise, healthy eating, regular spa appointments, dates with my spouse, family time, quite time, listening to good music, reading a good book, running, biking, yoga, and spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer and scripture reading.

In speaking of the Great Commandment, Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12: 30-31). This means that I am to love and sacrifice for the sake of others. This also means that I cannot truly love others if I neglect to care for myself. If you have not already done so, make a list of all the things you enjoy and begin putting self-care activities on your calendar. You will love and appreciate others better when you have cared for yourself.

 

Dr. Toni

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