Being kind and understanding toward others, taking care of and helping others, putting others first …..these are all good values that have been instilled in us. They are also ones that I believe in and have no issue with; well, except one.
There are times when a person’s mindset gets filled to overflowing with the belief that in life, one should ONLY be taking care of and thinking of others without giving a thought to oneself. I remember having a conversation with a minister around this topic. It was one of those times that provided an “a-ha” moment for me. It came when he said, “The commandment is to love others AS yourself, not more than yourself.” He went on to explain that we should love others as we would want them to love us but that the commandment does not ask us to love others with no consideration for ourselves.
There was a time in my life that I had fallen into the trap of only thinking of others. When I even considered the possibility that my own wants and needs were important, I was literally wracked with guilt. My own inner chatter was loud in its reprimand. I’ve come a long way since those days and although I still highly value sharing of myself, my time and my energy with others, I am also able to give myself permission to value my own needs as well.
Also of note here are the many recent conversations I have had with clients around this exact topic — clients who have found themselves out of balance in giving to others to the complete sacrifice of their own needs.
Although I make no claims to theologian status, I would have to offer that the commandment to love others does not mean to do so out of guilt, have-to or should. Rather, I believe, it is to be done as a choice; to be done because it’s what you want to do. And, it’s to be done without sacrificing you and your life. Valuing yourself, your wants, your needs and your time is also important.
“The commandment is to love others as you would have them love you”
…. Do you desire for others to value your wants, needs and time? Do you want them to value yours as you do theirs? This begins by you demonstrating by your actions that BOTH are important …. not just one or the other.
Our lives abound with chances to be giving and helpful to others. No one can answer to all of those needs; but everyone can answer to some of them.
So, what if you stopped being guided by guilt, should, and have-to? What if, instead, you only chose to give at times and in ways that you felt a true God-inspired direction to do so? What if, rather than being guided by man’s demands, you waited for Spirit-inspired direction?
What difference would that make to your life?
No one can answer everyone’s needs but everyone can answer someone’s need.
Stay in balance by only answering the ones you were asked to do.
This is where you find balance.
Fueling Your Inner Fire with ACTION:
When you’re feeling out of balance by taking care of the needs of others, consider these questions:
1) Am I frustrated by sacrificing too many of my own wants and needs? Am I giving up things that are important to me?
2) Am I giving out of choice or giving out of guilt?
3) What actions can I take to bring myself back into balance?
Giving can be just as out of balance as not giving
Are you giving more than God is asking you to give?