We all have a self and we all have an ish. Yep, that’s right… an ish.
I’m referring to that part in all of us that wants something now, and no matter what we have to do we will get it! When you get self and ish together, it’s well… ishy. It’s rather unpleasant. When that selfishy smell gets all over you, it tends to spill over onto everyone else too. It’s not pretty; in fact it tends to push people away. Selfishness ruins relationships.
The trick is learning how to take care of our self without the ish part. This unfortunately, doesn’t come very naturally to us. We don’t have to work real hard to have our selfishness rear its ugly head. We demand with literal or figurative stomping feet what we feel we need right now, and someone around us better provide it! Every day, we choose which part we will feed.
We all know we need to take care of ourselves. When we don’t care for our whole self, we will eventually crash and no one is the better for it. Simple truth: we were not created to run ourselves into the ground.
Jesus knew how to take care of himself. He valued people, but also knew he couldn’t pour out of an empty cup. He wasn’t selfish; He gave of himself as the Father directed. He wasn’t selfless; He knew exactly who he was and purposed himself to do the will of the Father, even unto death. He knew when to minister, and when he needed a break. The crowds never ceased in their need for more miracles, but Jesus understood the need for balance.
By following His perfect example, we know it is wise take care of our whole self so that we too can do the will of the Father. Out of the fullness of His Spirit within us, we can then minister to others.
Consider these 5 tips for taking care of your self (without the ish):
1. Take Regular Time Outs
This sounds easy, but for some of us it takes discipline. Jesus took regular time out to be quiet, to pray, to only be with His closest friends- the disciples, to escape the crowd of people. We need rest for our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits. We need time to be quiet, to listen to what’s going on in our interior world, to breathe and be filled up. If Jesus saw the need for this and practiced it, what makes us think we don’t need it too?
2. Feed Your Soul Daily
If you give to everyone else and neglect your own self, your ish will appear. Your soul needs daily feeding. Meditate on the Word of God and let its refreshing waters wash over you. Take time to examine your heart, practice confession and receive forgiveness. Ponder God’s grace, drink in your Savior’s love and the blessings He gives every day. Create space for beauty and enjoying things that give your soul refreshment.
3. Be Kind
When our ish comes out of us like a flood, our capacity for kindness goes out the window. All that matters in that moment is me, not you. When we intentionally practice kindness and thoughtfulness, we are putting others needs before ours and suddenly they are more important! Another perk: when we are kind to others, we are also being kind to ourselves. When we bless others, we are also blessed. Remember to also be kind to your self. You are human.
4. Embrace Patience
Many times when our patience wears thin, we feel justified to let our ish out of its cage: “Don’t they see how long I’ve been waiting?” “How could you let this happen… again?” “Are you kidding me?” blurts out of our mouths with great ease. When we practice patience, we put our focus on the importance of the relationship, not the inconvenience. When someone is being rather irritating, try compassion instead. What is causing their behavior? Usually it’s something other than what’s obviously on the surface. While you’re at it, embrace patience with your self also. You are not perfect, nor should anyone expect you be.
5. Practice Gratefulness
When we practice gratitude every day, we tend to focus on the good and our ish tends to take a hike, allowing love to flow through. By focusing our minds on the good, we are caring for our self by keeping our minds on higher things. To begin practicing gratefulness, try this experiment I blogged about when I began my own 90 days of gratefulness.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Remember, we all have a self and we all have an ish.
Which one will you choose to feed today?
Michelle Marx is a regular contributor to Soul Care Collective.