Thursday, August 26, 2010

August - Pamper Yourself!

Don't skip over this blog post.  I know, I know, who has time for pampering?  And especially in the midst of grief, who even cares about pampering yourself?  Isn't getting out of bed a good enough goal?  Maybe a shower, possibly a homecooked meal?  Yes and no.  Yes, there is most definitely a time of being in survival mode, and that is ok. But there is also a time when the path to really living again includes doing a few things for yourself, simply because they are enjoyable.  

We started the August gathering by writing down some of the things that are our favorites - restaurant, drink, candy bar, movie, author, music, vacation type, flower, color, season, etc.  Then I posed a question to the ladies: what would happen if the church building was hit by a storm and badly damaged?  (I admitted to them that this was random, but that it'd come together in time...they were gracious and went along!)  They listed several steps: hold a meeting, rebuild, call insurance, pray, figure out exactly what needs to be done, freak out, share news on facebook, do some fundraising, clean up.  

These things seemed pretty obvious, but what do we do when a storm hits our lives?  Do we meet with others who care about us and/or who have been impacted by the storm?  Do we even want to clean up and rebuild?  Do we call the insurance agent?  (God is the insurance agent - He restores all things and gives us what is needed as we rebuild.)  

Losses that come from miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility affect us in all areas - physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  Regardless of our natural inclination, we must push through and take care of ourselves.  This is not a guilt trip - not just one more thing on our "should" list!  First let's figure out why God wants us to take care of ourselves.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The world's pattern is to find something and take it to an extreme.  You like an occasional alcoholic beverage?  Drink as much and as often as you want.  You like food?  Eat whatever and whenever you please.  You like to be alone?  Never venture out to be with others.  You like to shop?  Buy everything you like.  The world is not exactly about moderation or balance.  But God calls us to not conform to the world's pattern.  He knows it is destructive.  He calls us to renew our minds.  Yes, crazy thoughts come during times of grief, and that's ok.  But we cannot allow ourselves to dwell on those thoughts.  Renewing our minds does not only mean to toss out thoughts that aren't pleasing and perfect and honorable - renewing means to replace those "bad" thoughts with good thoughts.  True thoughts.  Thoughts that bring us closer to God and closer to healing.  This isn't pretending the hurt is not there; this is choosing how reality will look in your life, what the ramifications of what has happened will be.

1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

As Christians, God, through the Holy Spirit, lives in our bodies.  For those who lived in Bible times, the idea of taking care of God's temple was a super big deal.  There were strict rules about His temple.  They understood the awesomeness and magnificence surrounding His presence.  Sometimes we take for granted that He now lives in us.  We forget that others are supposed to see God when they see us.  We sometimes think that we are actually doing a good thing to work so hard that we don't get enough sleep, or to avoid fun things because there's always something "more important" to do instead.  However, it is only when we take care of ourselves that our bodies can honor God, and point others to Him, in the way that He intended.

The next random question I posed to the gals: how would you want people to remember you when you die?  What would you want your loved ones to do?  They mentioned things like finding ways to honor their memory, new traditions to start, mourning but in time finding life again, laughing, moving on.  Moving on didn't mean forgetting or dishonoring; while we all hope that our lives meant something to others and that we'd be missed, nobody wanted to think that those they love would forever grieve and miss out on the abundant life.  

So now we know how we'd want others to respond to our own death...but is that how we are responding to the deaths of our babies?  Or are we closing up shop, merely existing, afraid to venture out and try new things, afraid to laugh or smile?  Are we believing the lie that anything good or enjoyable somehow dishonors the precious lives we wish were still here?  Perhaps by trudging through the darkness and one day seeing light and brilliant color once again - perhaps by not giving up and by seeking out ways to care for ourselves we will actually bring honor and even more meaning to those for whom we mourn.

We ended with a list of ideas of ways to take care of ourselves.  And a challenge was issued - strive to do at least most of these things in the coming month.  See how it can make a positive difference, how it can bring an important fresh perspective to everything going on.

Ways I can take care of myself:
Get enough rest
Dare to hope
Remember past blessings
Give thanks for small things
Enjoy a favorite food or drink
Get a manicure or pedicure
Get a massage
Spend reflective time alone
Spend time with a good friend
Take a break from being strong
Take slow deep breaths
Listen to music
Sing as loudly as you can
Do something artsy or creative
Learn something new
Read a book just because it sounds good
Take a long bath
Visit somewhere new
Bless someone in a similar situation

What will you do today?  This week?  This month?  Add to the list.  Work on these things with another person.  Dare to walk the road ahead of you - even if it includes beautiful fragrant flowers.

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