About twenty years ago, as our daughters were becoming adults, I began using a parting mantra that was new to me. Instead of a simple “Good-bye” or “I love you” or “Be good,” I began to say, “Take care of yourself.”
The transition was intentional. No one had explicitly taught me self-care. I wanted Jenna and Julie to know it was not only okay, but also it was important that they care for themselves.
Sunday school classes, when I was growing up, taught children to memorize short Bible verses. One of those was “Bear one another’s burdens,” found in Galatians 6: 2. The lesson is that we are to help one another in times of need. No one in my family or church showed us, much less asked us to memorize, Galatians 6: 5, which reads, “Bear your own burdens.”
The result is that a lot of good Christian folks became excellent at taking care of other people and not so good at taking care of themselves. Taking care of others was considered a virtue and looking out for yourself was somehow sinful, egotistical and wrong. So, some of us went to work when we were sick. We stifled our opinions and gave into the whims of others. We didn’t stand a chance against bullies. We served others and didn’t allow them to serve us. We were big on Duty. Sometimes we overfunctioned in our zeal to take care of others.
At some point, I realized that Jesus said we are to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22: 37-40), not more than, not less than. I am part of God’s creation. Why would I take care of the “you” part of creation and not the “me” part of creation?
So, I changed my thinking. That is allowed. Actually, it is required if we are to grow!
So, don’t feel the need to argue when I say, “Take care of yourself.” It’s good advice.