Thriving and Self Care

Stress and anxiety.  That’s what my doctor shared with me about 15 years ago when I went in for an appointment.  I was tired, couldn’t sleep, and felt like I had a ton of bricks on my chest.  After a medical exam, he determined that I was under a lot of stress.  “What’s causing the anxiety and stress?”  I shared with him the difficulties I was facing.  He was very compassionate and advised me to see a therapist.  This was the beginning of what I would later learn to call care of the self and soul.  And I realized that I wanted to thrive in all areas of my life. 

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Thriving personally and professionally.  It’s a phrase I come back to when I feel overwhelmed or misguided.  It’s a working vision for my life.  

I also like the word flourishing.  It conjures up an image of fresh vegetation that is life-giving, both to the body and mind, but also to the desire for beauty and aesthetics.  In sum, thriving is about wholeness and vitality in life, not just one dimensional.  It’s all the major areas of our lives being attended to and nurtured.  

For some, the stress might surround their physical health.  Losing weight.  Just moving around more.  For others, it might be professional health.  Setting work hour boundaries.  Dealing with a conflict between coworkers.  

The following illustration is an example of how one might engage in the work of thriving.  We are empowered with personal responsibility to cultivate such a life and this diagram is a helpful place to survey where one might start.

Exercise

One way to engage with the diagram is to read through the wheel and do the following:

1.  Assess:  what area seems to draw my attention?

2.  Advise:  given my need to address this part of the wheel, what do I want to do about it?

3.  Action:  commit to small steps of care this week.

In my faith tradition, we talk about flourishing and thriving under the auspice of wholeness and life to the fullness (John 10:10b). We believe that God has made us in his image (Gen.1:27, James 3:9).

God cares about every facet of our lives, including work! God’s love and salvation extend to each area of the self-care wheel. Out of love for us, God is intimately aware of the stress and anxiety you are experiencing. Our faith offers us a way to interpret (discern) what is happening in our lives and to make meaning. In sum, God cares about you thriving personally and professionally.

Prayer: “God, I look up and where does our help come from? It comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. We pray that you would grant us the strength to engage in the kind of self-care that would help us thrive personally and professionally.”

Mutual Empowerment

Since the pain and hurt we feel as a nation is caused by un-wielded power, empower others. How? Here’s an example. A wealthy, white business man took a chance to empower me for a new service at his company. I provide corporate chaplaincy services to a dealer group because someone believed in me and gave me a shot. He used his power and influence to open doors for me.

Another example: a black pastor has been empowering me to be more vocal and own my gifts. He’s even providing platforms and spaces for me to unravel my areas of concentration: work and worship. Public spaces and public pastoring.

A third example: Christina is being asked to lead worship and be all of her true self. As a woman, being invited to the table to lead and influence is a BIG DEAL!

Being empowered by others doesn’t mean I was powerless. It means that others recognize, affirm, and create spaces for all of us to be who God has intended us to be.

#blacklivesmatter is not a political statement, although it should influence politics. I take it as a prophetic movement that affirms and empowers the black community. And when the black community is empowered, WE’RE ALL EMPOWERED!

To empower doesn’t mean that the one empowering will lose power. It means there is a partnership, a mutual relationship of respect and trust that creates a system where ALL can flourish.

While the a prophetic word is cause for correction, it doesn’t stay in this “gut wrenching place”. It points to hope and ways for all to experience wholeness and flourishing.

When I focus on negative traits or aspects of my marriage (or myself), I feel depressed and in the dumps. But when I focus and adapt to the strengths, life opens up in different ways!

I’ve been thinking about how Jesus says He is the way and the Truth. Truth feels so subjective and slanted these days. We have a conflict of ideas, as facebook user said recently. Truth for Christ followers is shaped by the life, words, and deeds of Jesus. And His relationship to the Father and Spirit. This triune communion is in partnership with one another.

How can we be shaped by the Truth? We submit to Lordship and surrender to the God who longs to heal and reconcile.

This week, I pray and hope for ways to partner with others who want to see empowerment of others, mutual flourishing, and truth being shaped by a relationship with Jesus.