Paperwork. Need I say more?
I could have used a forklift to help me heave the stack of patient forms from the physician’s counter. My medical file exploded this year—and this was just one of many stacks I had already sifted through and signed. Caregivers—people who help other people (which means all of us at some point in life)—are known to develop health issues. I mean, like, serious health issues—auto-immune disorders, heart and organ compromise, and even premature death—a bit more than a little sniffle or rumbly tummy.
And I study these things . . . I know the “rules”:
- “Brush the teeth you want to keep.”
- “Stop, drop, and roll.”
- “Buckle up.”
- “An apple a day . . .”
But I was jumping from specialist to specialist faster than fleas on a dog. Something had to change. While reviewing my health profile, one specialist asked, “So how is your water intake?”
She looked over her glasses at me as if I hadn’t heard and asked again: “How much water are you drinking each day? Twenty-four or 32 ounces, give or take?”
I asked her, “Does ice count?” I hate drinking water except for the two days after my recent back surgery when my taste buds were still groggy. My water intake was one of many things the doctor addressed as problematic; and I left with another set of “to dos” and scheduled follow-ups, and I thought, I don’t have time for this.
Following Good Counsel
The drive home was long and hot . . . long enough in silence to hear thoughts in my head that I didn’t want to listen to. I didn’t want to hear them because they were the truth. The truth can hit hard sometimes; it can smack you right in the kisser and doesn’t offer any wobble room for compromise. The truth is that I made time for the urgent needs of my family—and everything seemed urgent—but I never made time to care for my own health. As if it’s not obvious, I don’t know how to balance life well.
I respond to most things with a sense of scrambling urgency—except self-care.
It’s human nature to avoid self-care when things are falling apart. Feelings of helplessness, fault-finding, guilt, and a whole host of excuses can come tumbling out of us. It’s extremely difficult to live calmly as a caregiver because the demands and duties are exhausting, and they don’t stop!
But Jesus uses these seasons as tools to reveal where we need His care.
- He understands us better than anyone on earth.
- He lived here, remember?
- And if anyone ever had an excuse to be overwhelmed, it’s Jesus.
Lately, I’ve been basking in Matthew 5–7, Jesus’ teaching we call the Sermon on the Mount. He is teaching people about what it takes to live a holy life. Tucked near the end of this passage are these words: “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise” (Matthew 7:24 NLT). This principle holds: listen to good counsel and follow it.
Establish a course of action that is in keeping with the advice, and make it a habit for life. Those who hear and act become steadfast and strong.
Let Me Hear from You
Are you taking care of yourself? Are you playing the blame game or giving excuses for why you are irritable or miserable? Are you willing to hear the truth? Step one is simple: act on what is right and true.
Pick one area of your life that needs attention, and examine how to act on what is right and true. I’ve picked my physical health: there’s a huge, pink 32-ounce water bottle on my desk—no ice—I’m chuggin’ it down like medicine.
What can you do for yourself to establish a healthful routine to keep living well?
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