A little over a week ago my ebook posted on why I had suddenly disappeared after all the posts and fun in March: I got sick. And not just sick with one thing. I’ve spent the last three weeks being sick or recovering from being sick. It has not been pleasant. I think it all began back in March when I stopped taking care of myself. When I thought I could push myself for a month,  and it would be OK. I was wrong. I think Godde took particular pleasure in some of my favorite people writing about the importance of self-care last week.

First up was Jen Louden at The Savor and Serve Cafe. April 13th’s dollop was from Karly Randolph-Pitman:

Are you proud of your self-care? Or do you try to hide it?

Women can be excellent stoics. We can feel bad asking for help. We may want to appear “normal,” lest others think we are too high maintenance.

Think of the word “needy:” it implies fragility. Something to avoid. To hide.

When we drive ourselves hard, we suffer. When we neglect our basic needs for healthy food, sleep, alone time, and exercise, we suffer. We suffer because we’re ungrounded, and then we suffer again when we beat ourselves up for feeling funky and inside out.


Then my good friend Alexia Petrakos wrote this in her Customer Love post:

You are your greatest asset. And there’s only one of you. Unless, of course, you’ve managed to clone yourself. In which case, contact me now because we need to talk.

And since there’s only one of you, you need to take care of you.

This means eating right, exercising, showering (!), spending time with your family, reading, goofing off, vegging in front of the TV, going to parks, movies, museums, art galleries, taking art lessons or karate lessons, going for coffee with your friends.

This means filling your own well before you fill others. The Permission Fairies say it’s OK.

If you’re spent, you can’t give your best

Love yourself, be kind to yourself, before you love on your customers. They can tell when you’re fully alive and when you’re half-dead.

DOUBLE OUCH. You see in February I wrote a post for Customer Love called: If You Want to Love Your Customers, Love YOU First. Um…yeah…I wrote about this topic two months ago. I’m really bad about taking my own advice.

It hasn’t helped this is Lent on top of it. Lent is a time of self-discipline and self-denial. My Lenten discipline lasted three weeks this year before I got sick and hasn’t happened since. So I don’t feel like self care should be a big thing right now anyway. This time of the year is about self-denial, not self-care. Of course my self-denial led to getting sick, not working, and not being able to follow through on my Lenten discipline. Didn’t that work out well?

I was also reminded a couple of weeks ago how hard self-care can be for women when Katie left this comment on Battling Depression and Sloth: Routine and Ritual:

Thank you. It’s so hard for me to separate self-care and indulgence, but I think you’re right about routine… Indulgence happens when you deprive yourself of the things that nourish you for too long.

I think it is a doubly hard message for Christian women:

Give it until the very end, until you have nothing left. And then your reward will come.

How readily women hear that message! How easily we believe these words. Give all. Don’t question. Don’t be angry. Don’t doubt that your reward will be on some distant horizon….

The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind, but with a new lesson, one particularly for women.

…a Samaritan, as she journeyed, came to where he was, and when she saw him, she had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine, then she set him on her own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day she took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay when I come back.” (from Luke 10:33-35 KJV)

She left. She left! The woman tended to his wounds, brought him to a safe place, took care of him, and paid his way. And then she left.

It sounds almost sinful when we replace the “he” with “she.” You mean she didn’t stay long enough to be sure that he had a job or a home? What woman would leave so quickly? Yet the parable tells us that the woman had compassion when she saw the the man. The lesson is that she also had compassion for herself. She knew her limits.

–“The Good Samaritan Woman” by Peggy Weaver in The Wisdom of Daughters

(A very big thank you to J. K. Gayle for pointing me toward this fabulous book.)

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. I know I need to take care better care of myself. But it’s something that does not come natural to me. And I know a lot of that is due to the religion I grew up with. Like Peggy pointed out I grew up hearing women being told our job was to love, serve, and give and give and give. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what we should do. It seemed to apply more to women than it did to men. In fact if you read down the comments of the post Katie left her comment on, you’ll see a whole bunch of Christian women who have trouble taking care of themselves and not feeling guilty about it. It’s both cultural and religious.

That gets me thinking may be women need to do something other than self-denial for Lent. We do self-denial all year. May be our Lenten discipline is taking care of ourselves and not feeling guilty about it. Think on that: Six weeks of giving yourself permission to take care of yourself and (gasp!) may be even self-indulge without feeling guilty for your Lenten discipline. And for most women–not allowing ourselves to feel guilty would be a discipline.

What if next year’s Lenten discipline was adding what you need to your life instead of more self-denial. What if it was more resting and less going. More feeding yourself and less being everyone’s maid.

How would your relationship with Godde change if you took 40 days to love yourself before you loved your neighbor (or your family)? After all that is the second greatest command: Love your neighbor AS you love yourself. Would you have any neighbors if you loved them like you loved you? What if women took on the second greatest commandment as our Lenten discipline next year? What would our relationship with Godde look like at the end? What would our world look like at the end?