Take Care of Yourself

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

This week’s One Another Living Challenge is to take care of yourself. In fact this is not just the challenge this week, but throughout your life.

Now it may seem strange for a challenge which is supposed to be others focused to admonish people to take care of themselves. Let me tell you I thought it strange as well when the idea starting forming in my heart and in my mind.
Such a challenge seemed to be the very antithesis of putting others before ourselves.

This challenge comes from a personal challenge from my daughter. I was sharing with her the frustration with my on-again-off-again healthy lifestyle efforts.

Me: “I know I need to lose weight and exercise. It will make my life so much better.”

Daughter: “And you can live longer with me.”

Me: “Uh?”

Daughter: “If you continue to be overweight and inactive you may not live as long and that takes you from me sooner.

Pretty selfish if you ask me.”

Dah! Of course I want to live as long as possible with those I love. But do I take care of myself like I really mean that? I don’t think I ever really thought of not taking care of myself as being selfish.

This presupposition of selfishness wasn’t new to me, but I never applied to my own unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Take my parents for example. My dad was a heavy smoker and died at the young age of 57. I was 19. He missed my college graduation, my wedding, knowing my husband, the births and raising of three of his grandchildren and growing old with my mother. Not to mention the births and raising of 13 great-grandchildren.

My mother did live a long life. She was 87 when God took her home. But she missed out on quite a lot too. Why? Because she was overweight and this caused her many health problems which kept her on the sidelines of many family happenings. She couldn’t get on the floor and play with her grandkids. She couldn’t walk to all the zoo exhibits or climb the steps to ride the tram. She couldn’t hike with our family or even take a walk around the block. Many of her limitations began in her 60’s and simply worsened until her death.

Like me, my parents never considered themselves to be selfish on this point. They just had some bad habits that were “too hard to overcome.” But, for years I harbored a level of bitterness toward my dad for leaving me too soon. I felt it was the ultimate selfishness to keep smoking and “forcing” me to watch him die from grueling lung cancer. And I also felt short changed by my mom because she was unable to “fully” enjoy my family.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love my parents dearly. I value all they were to me and all they provided for me. But I often wonder how much we missed because of their selfish decisions to keep smoking and keep overeating. All that wondering is mute, of course, unless I am wise enough to not follow their example on these particular issues. There are many other fine examples from my parents, but not their disregard for a healthy lifestyle.

The ultimate question is: Why should I take care of myself?

Answer: To live as long as God intends, to serve Him fully for as long as He intends AND to live as long as He intends for the one anothers around me, including my family!

Is this a good reason for you to take care of yourself? It’s not for you. It’s for those around you that you can be a minister of the gospel to them for a as long as God intends.

So, what harmful habit are you selfishly hanging onto? Can you give that habit to the Lord and take the challenge to take care of yourself this week and throughout your life?

photo credit: otisarchives3 via photo pin cc

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