I believe many Christian women find themselves feeling guilty about things that they think they ’should’ be doing. We do not have a clear understanding about what it means to live a happy, wholesome life. We seem to operate mostly from guilt and ‘should have’s’.
Gerri Scezzarro, author of The Emotionally Healthy Woman, says that we have a wrong perception of a good, loving Christian woman. She states that most women believe this is how they need to live:
- “They never say ‘no’.
- They have an active social calendar.
- They juggle many things and never complain.
- They get things done and put others before themselves
I fell into this trap and started my Christian experience with this popular phrase as my cornerstone, JOY. Alas, JOY, (Jesus first, others second and lastly you) did not work for me as I continually sacrificed my own and family’s wants and needs to help others. I ended up being a joyless Christian women trying to carry my cross and save the whole world.
It was not a pretty picture!
I was shedding my own blood to save a world that Jesus had already shed His blood to save! God did not intend for me to do the work Jesus had already given His life for.
I was fading fast with exhaustion, anger and frustration nipping at my heels. I was running the race and not winning because my body, mind and spirit were being denied their needed rest and nourishment.
I was an emotionally scarred woman because I didn’t understand that as a Christian woman I could say ‘no” and needed too. We end up denying the wrong things that nurture us, refresh our spirit and revive our bodies.
Yes, we need to deny anger, jealousy and gossip but don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Jesus does not want us to die from exhaustion:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I visualize Christ as one who walked calmly through His day facing whatever presented itself with inner strength and wisdom. We do not see the Lord running madly after people trying to save them. They came to Him because they were drawn to Jesus. His very presence exuded peace and rest. People believed that if they just touched the Lord, they would be healed.
My personal journey these past six years has been one of learning to love myself and take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs first. We can walk with ease and grace through our day and discover that people will be drawn to us because of our joy that springs from wells of refreshing as we nourish ourselves and keep our cups full.
To have time for ourselves, we need to set boundaries. Until a few months ago I had no idea what ‘healthy boundaries’ were or even meant but I sensed that they might help me with my people-pleasing problem.
According to therapist, Terri Cole, “Healthy boundaries are not something to fear. They enable us to walk in our purpose without distractions. We become good at knowing what is best for us without feeling guilty and that we’re letting others down.”
Healthy boundaries are created by saying “no” allowing us to take care of ourselves, go for a walk, read a book, catch up on devotions, exercise and eat well. Setting healthy boundaries means knowing our limits.
But to do this, we need to create space for ourselves, and fill our cups so that its filled and overflowing when needed. We must stop it from being drained by things that are not important.
Keep your cup full and overflowing for the needs and people that will be drawn to you because of your joy and the grace by which you maneuver life.
We can’t do everything and shouldn’t feel guilty when we say ‘no’.