To be clear, the term self-care is not an endorsement
of a lifestyle that mirrors the Vogue or Cosmopolitan covers
that I walk by and read over in check out lines and doctor’s
offices. American lifestyle values so often emphasize various
flavors of extreme. On one hand, there is pressure for
perfection in the area of our physical bodies that leads to
intense emphasis on fitness, clothing, leisure, and other
material pursuits. We also value an uber Puritan work ethic that
espouses the idea that the one who is busiest and sacrifices
most is superior. The command to remember the Sabbath is
so often ignored.
It used to be that something deep in my gut hitched
and rebelled whenever I heard others encourage me toward, or
even just suggest the general idea of the importance of taking
care of self. Something in my brain screamed “you’re selfish,”
“you don’t deserve that,” or some other degrading message.
Role models and faith models did not encourage a self-care
point of view, and in fact they often demonstrated a “give until
you drop dead” lifestyle.
My earliest arguments against the idea of self-care were
born from a conflict between faith values and the worship-of-
self values in culture. The Puritan work ethic was embedded in
my mindset. The “Give your all and sacrifice until it hurts”
messages resounded within. Most forms of self-care felt selfish
and somehow wrong to me.
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