This past week has been a whirlwind for me. I have learned so much. I go to a Christian-based therapist and have had some great discussions with her about my type-A personality. I am a people pleaser, plain and simple. If someone is hurting, I try to “fix” the problem. If someone needs me, I’m there. My own emotional health is rarely considered when I make these decisions to drop my life and help others. Sometimes, this is a great thing.
Being in youth ministry is a full time job, even if it is only a “part-time job”. I am constantly available to my kids and meet with them frequently one on one. I have always been emotionally capable of handling other people’s burdens, so being the role model for these kids and listening to the struggles they are facing comes naturally to me. It also comes natural to help friends or family whenever they are in need. However, being a people pleaser can be exhausting, both emotionally and physically. Sometimes this can even lead into spiritual exhaustion! None of these are positive outcomes. So, how do we find a balance between helping others in need and taking care of ourselves? My therapist gave me a GREAT analogy that I have been running through my head for the past week….
“You can’t keep the ship from sinking if you can’t keep yourself afloat.”
Or, something to that extent. The bottom line is… how are we supposed to truly help lead others towards Christ if we are spiritually exhausted ourselves? How can we help others get to a healthy emotional place in their lives if those very people’s lives are affecting our own mental health in such a drastic way?
How do we absorb other people’s burdens into our sponge without squeezing it all out at the end of the day?
We will get so filled up with negativity that we are surely to explode. Sure enough, this happened to me.
At the end of it all, I learned that while it may always be difficult for me to take care of myself before others, the one thing I can rest in is that I don’t have to perform in order to be appreciated, loved, and accepted – I just have to show up and genuinely care. I just have to show up and genuinely care! In therapy, the relationships we build with the professional makes up 60% of our progress. Why should it be any different in the other aspects of our lives? It is not how much we do for someone, how often we carry their baggage for them, or how many times we change around our life in order for theirs to fit. What matters is our relationship with them, which can be radically changed by simply showing up and loving them. This will work better than anything else because our cup will be so full from our rest (not going above and beyond is rest in itself) that we won’t be able to do anything but to share it with others.