Mom watched K for us this morning so we could go to the gym. It’s K’s nap time now and I’ve asked Ray to do the honors of fighting him down to sleep while I…eat a lovely guilt salad.
I could be enjoying this moment of silence and me time, but instead I’m feeling bad, once again, for asking for help with something that I think should be my responsibility. I feel the same every time I ask Mom to watch K, or any time Dad picks up K’s toys, or when Ray makes breakfast and lets me sleep in. I could go on and on. Every joy is tainted with guilt.
When Ray and I decided to reorder our priorities, we knew there would be some unexpected bumps along the way but this is probably more than just a bump. I’m realizing it is a huge hurdle in trying to live our values, possibly the biggest.
Where does this guilt come from?
So why is it so hard to extend the same encouragement and grace to ourselves as we do to each other?
I’m not 100% sure. On the one hand, I can see that it might partially stem from society’s expectations—good parents and spouses put their families above all. They are completely sacrificial, selfless. Christlike. Right? Ray and I were discussing this very topic the other day and as he said, there is no more worthy cause for us than our family. Giving to and caring for each other is the greatest act of love, so when given a choice to spend some time alone, or staying home with each other, pursuing our own joys feels lesser, or even wrong and selfish. Is it?
There is a lot of focus these days on self care. Preachers and teachers use Jesus as an example…”Even Jesus took time to be alone…You’ve gotta get re-filled…etc..” My problem with this kind of teaching is that it gets so self-focused that there is no output, no sharing or caring for others. It becomes too easy to refrain from giving of personal time when that “Christlike” reason is given. “I’m taking care of myself, like Jesus did.”
Where is the balance? I was out for a walk one day to exercise and think and be alone and a thought occurred to me: there is a fine line between self care and selfishness. I think my guilt comes, at least in part, from a fear of crossing that line. No one wants to be thought selfish. I want to be a good wife and mother but my husband and child always seem to need more than I can give. I know Ray feels the same. Ray asked me, “Do you think I’m being selfish when I want to pursue my art?” My answer came easily: Absolutely not.
So why is it so hard to extend the same encouragement and grace to ourselves as we do to each other? Why does it feel so wrong no matter how many logical, practical, even Biblical reasons there are for it?
Where is the line and how do we avoid crossing it?
Comment below and let us know what you think.