Many of us are in the “sandwich generation,” taking care of aging parents and children while we serve as leaders in the workplace and mentors. With so much going on, it is easy to forget how important we are. We neglect our sleep, fail to eat right, and push off our spiritual development to tend to the very important needs that surround us.
The problem is when we ignore our own needs we become weary and unable to do our best by those who depend upon us.
Repeat after me — “I am not selfish but wise to care for my body, mind, and spirit.”
Okay, now say it like you mean it. Now say it with meaning. Keep repeating this every morning before you get your feet on the floor. Eventually you will believe it.
Until then, make a plan. As an entrepreneur, you know that value of having a plan and working that plan to create a new reality. I will be the first to admit that I recently had an “Alice in Wonderland” moment — capable of giving very good advice but unable to take it.
Over the last three months, I have changed jobs (churches), moved houses, and watched my father die from the ravages of dementia. During that time, I really got off track mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I wasn’t doing anything bad — I just wasn’t doing anything good for me.
It was like being in a holding pattern — no progress.
I realized that if I were to be there for my mother, husband, adult children, and the members of two congregations, then I had to make changes.
The first thing I did was to start cooking again — nothing fancy, just meals lower in sodium and fat than even the “healthy” choices at restaurants. Next I restarted a long-neglected hobby. I spent time with my husband. Finally, I inventoried my spiritual life and challenged myself to explore a different type of prayer.
Although I cannot say that I am back to where I was four months ago, I am better today than yesterday — and that is good for everyone.
When we are caught in a cycle of caring more about others than ourselves, we do a disservice to them, God, and ourselves. Jesus told us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 27:37–40). If we do not love ourselves and treat our bodies, minds, and spirits with care, we give God and others what is leftover of us.
We cannot fully give ourselves to God if we are depleted. We cannot adequately love and care for others when we are empty.
- eat right
- sleep well
- take time for pleasure
- enjoy God
Learn from my mistake and repeat after me, “I am not selfish but wise to care for my body, mind, and spirit.”
Peace be with you.
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves the faith communities of St. John’s UMC in Lutherville, MD, and Idlewylde UMC as lead pastor. As the member of the District Committee on Ministry, Carol has mentored other women as they answer their call to ministry. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, daughter of aging parents, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance.