Many people are surprised when I tell them that I have lived in my house since it was built 33
years ago. And if they know me, they realize that it is a pattern in my life; I find something I
like, I stay with it! But what about when we keep something too long?
The reality of those 33 years hit me hard recently when I finally gave in and did some minor
remodeling to the master bathroom. It is the only room in the house that had not been redone
which means some of the fixtures were 33 years old. As I was selecting brand new items for the
room such as paint, cabinets, sinks and faucets, I was forced to see how I had adapted to things
that should have been changed years ago. The parts were old, tattered and in several places
repaired just enough to get by. This bathroom was the polar opposite of the rest of my house
which has been updated and decorated several times over the years. One might say “my house
was out of balance”. As I continued to change the room, the analogy of my house and my life
began to take hold.
It was obvious that there were parts of the bathroom that had been neglected but are there parts
of my life that I have neglected? What areas of my life have I adapted to instead of repairing or
updating? Do I even recognize the areas that need attention? Friends, if we become content with
brokenness, we do damage to our souls. We become weary and worn as we expend our energy
to maintain the dysfunction; just like the band-aid repairs I had made to my bathroom.
When our heart begins to scream “Something needs to change!”, do we listen or do we try to
dress and bind the problem and keep going? What does it look like to balance our lives so that
we do not ignore the parts that are no longer working, that are outdated, that require growth? I
would suggest it is part of the practice of self-care. Practicing healthy self-care as part of our
regular disciplines can give us insight into these dilapidated areas. It allows for space to consider
the needs and options for change.
Self-care is vitally important to our mental, physical, and spiritual health. It is not an act of
selfishness as some people would have you believe. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. As we
take time to balance our lives to include self-care, we develop an awareness of others and their
needs and we become more able to fulfill the purpose(s) we were created for.
How do you do self-care? There is no list of activities that fit every person; it is a subjective
decision. The key is to find the activities that energize you. For me, it is reading my Bible, long
walks listening to rock music from the 70’s, getting a professional facial, baking, hosting people
in my home, trying new restaurants with a good friend, hiking, traveling, just to name a few.
What would it take to energize your spirit? Allow your heart to be heard and listen with
curiosity. Make a list of the practices you believe you need to feel revitalized. Find a place on
your calendar for them and make a promise to yourself that you will not cancel them. Know that
you are worth the time and effort to take care of yourself.
Ok, I admit, bathroom remodeling and the need for self-care is not a perfect analogy. But
looking through the lens of updating and renovating the one room in the house that needed it the
most, gave me a perspective that I don’t want to soon forget. Oh, and did I mention shopping for
home décor is one of my self-care activities? I’m headed to the bath department!
Brenda Stutler, LMHC