Stop Putting Yourself Last
I Have Been One of Those Women.
I have been married for twenty-eight years. My two oldest are soon to turn 27 and 25. And the baby is 16. My husband and I decided to give our lives to the ministry when our oldest was one-year old. We have run hard for the last 26 years. Many of those years we were out of balance, putting the church, the ministry, and the people first even before our own home, our own kids, and our own selves. We willingly made lots of sacrifices. Some of them were stupid and hurt our own family in the long run.
I’m probably being a little too honest for some of you today. And no, I’m not bitter! I’m better and I’m wiser!
For the most part, I’ve done good at keeping the main thing the main thing. I have kept my husband and the raising of our kids first. I made the building of my home my priority. There is something noble about that. However, while taking care of everyone and everything else, I have not taken care of myself. I have been one of those women. I put myself last. I have neglected some pretty important things. I have ignored little things going on in my own body. And I have had a careless attitude of “I’m just fine. It’s nothing. I’m okay.” – And the truth is that there is really nothing at all noble about that.
I’ve been running and going for quite some time. Running and going. Running. Going. And I feel tired. A lot.
Oh, I’ve been eating right and exercising but that is mostly because I want to look nice. Pretty much.
The past five years were a roller coaster ride. Grief, sorrow, sadness, stress, some deep stabs in the back, and lots of losses that my emotional heart had to navigate through. And while my emotional heart, my soul, was navigating through these things, I was experiencing some manifestations of the physical heart as well: flutters, vibrations, a few chest pains. – “I’m just fine. It’s nothing. I’m okay.” –
I have shared recently with many of you, from Spartanburg to Columbia, a message that the Lord downloaded in my spirit concerning a prospering soul and how the health of the soul is key to the health of the spirit and even the physical body (I’ll share more on that another time), but at the time I was experiencing these things in my body, I told no one what I was experiencing. I ignored it. I don’t even know why…except that I have just been one of those women.
Last week during a five day stay in the hospital, a doctor came into my room and let me have a piece of his mind. Last month I had another doctor do a thyroid test for me and through my answering a series of questions, I told her about the flutters, vibrations and irregular heart rhythms. It has been quite some time since I have experienced any of them. (My thyroid checked out just fine, by the way.) Well, she put those symptoms on my record. The doctor assigned to me last week saw it on my record and was not happy with me. “Why did you keep this from me? Why were you hiding this from me? I would have begun treating you differently if I had known this!” And he began to let me know that the worst thing that could happen to me wasn’t death. He began to explain to me just what takes place in the body when a person is experiencing heart flutters, vibrations and irregular beats and rhythms. He talked hard to me. He just about made me cry, but I appreciate the wake-up call, Doc.
I finally stopped pretending. I stopped pretending that it’s okay to ignore myself. I stopped pretending that there is anything noble about putting yourself last. And I want to tell every wife, every mom, every homemaker, every pastor or every pastor’s wife to stop it! Stop being that person.
A year ago, when I was coming up on my fiftieth birthday, I began thinking about all the things that I had been putting off and how I wasn’t getting any younger! It started to dawn on me then. I still had so many dreams in me. There were so many things in me that I wanted to do but continually put on the shelf. I kept telling myself it just wasn’t the right time. It just wasn’t my season. I put things on the back burner again and again. Something was always more important. That day, I found myself telling the Lord that I felt like I had been waiting my life away. Immediately, I heard the Lord asking me, ‘What is it that you are waiting for?”
I began to realize that if I was waiting for everything to first line up perfectly in order to do all the things that were still in my heart to do, that was never going to happen. The releasing of my first book this past spring (I have started writing so many over the last 15 years) was about me giving myself permission to do something for me. It was the very first step. Did you hear me, women? I said that I had to give myself permission to do something for me. That may sound strange to some, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is where most of us have been for quite some time. Do you have a hard time giving yourself permission to do something for yourself, think about yourself, or put yourself first once in a while? I wonder how many of you even feel guilty when you buy something for yourself.
Today, I have a message for that woman. Stop telling yourself that it is not your season. I want you to know that every season is your season. Whether you are single and pursuing your career, a newlywed just beginning the married life, a mom of young children that absolutely take up much of your energy and focus, or a woman who is juggling all of these things plus a career, learn to embrace the season you are currently in! Stop waiting for another season. And for goodness’ sake, take care of yourself now with just as fierce a commitment as you take care of everything and everyone else. You are important. You are special. You are beautiful. You are one of a kind. You are a gift. Every part of everything that you are doing is entirely significant and you are needed.
Here is your wake-up call, from one woman to another. It’s time. It’s time to stop pretending that you don’t need to do anything for you. Take time today to be good to yourself. Take time every day just for you.
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