For those of us who were educated decades ago we know what the > and < signs mean. For all you newbies > stands for greater than and < stands for lesser than. If you have ever been on a plane you have no doubt heard these famous words, "In the event of a loss of cabin pressure oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling and crush your heads and if you are traveling with children or someone acting like one please put your mask on first and then assist them with theirs". It only sounds like that on Southwest which is why I love them.
There is a great principle embedded in this announcement. Self care is more important than other care. Your care for others is dependent on how healthy you are. If you were sick and visited the doctor you would probably have issues if he/she opened the door and vomited all over the floor and then began choking and grasping for air. If they managed to say, "hold on a minute I will be right with you" I doubt you would be excited. I'm sure you would go into doctor mode and wonder how you could care for them. No one in their right mind would allow a doctor in this condition to care for them.
Some of you are innate and natural caregivers and servants. I want to say thank you for loving the rest of us so well. The world is a better place because you are in it. But, you need to expend some of your energy caring for yourself. I've found that caregivers are prone to neglect themselves. They typically put everything and everyone in front of their needs. If this is you stop. Start taking care of yourself. If you don't you are going to be the reason why you can no longer care for others.
Shame is a leading cause of personal neglect. Shame is the feeling that there's something wrong with me. One way we cope with shame is by serving others. The reasoning goes like this. If I serve people well and meet their needs then there's nothing wrong with me. People who struggle with shame don't take care of themselves because they don't see value in themselves outside of serving others. When they look in the mirror they don't see value. Why would you care for something/someone that is broken and worthless?
Newsflash: you are not your shame. Shame is what you experience, it isn't the final word on who you are and what you will be. So, stop being bullied by shame and take a stand today. Nothing can eradicate the fact that you are made in God's image. No sin, no past action against you, action you have done or present situation. For me, the bible is the most effective tool for battling shame. Read it and see how God deals with shame.
I want you to start taking care of yourself. Start today and start small.