“Oh. Must be nice! [ insert sarcasm ] They can afford to go on vacation.”
“Oh. They have time to shop. Alone! With no kids!! Must be nice!”
Have you ever found yourself cynical or having difficulty being encouraging to others when they tell you about their positive life experiences and self-care practices.
Things like the new class at the gym they are loving or this weekend’s golfing trip.
When you see them out for a walk at lunch and you are heading into your third back to back meeting.
Inwardly you say “must be nice” because you see these things as luxuries that you can’t afford, but in reality, you are longing for what they have.
One year ago at the time of this publication, I had a phone call with someone that changed my life.
For a few months, I was rolling the idea of Hope Made Strong around in my head before it even had a name, but I had so many doubts about myself.
Am I strong enough?
Do I know enough?
I’m just little old me in a small town?
What could I do that would actually help other people?
But the nagging feeling that I needed to pursue this idea continued.
One phone call changed everything.
Within 7 minutes the person on the other end of the call not only validated my idea but encouraged me so much that it ignited a fire so big that one year later it’s still burning.
When I get together with people and they ask how I’m doing I want to burst with excitement and can “talk shop” for hours.
However, I feel guilty about saying anything.
I usually resort to “I’m really enjoying the new venture. I’m excited about what God has in store.”
Why is it that I feel like I can’t share that I have finally found my purpose?
And that sometimes I can’t sleep with excitement?
I think it’s because I’m VERY familiar with this “must-be-nice-syndrome”.
This is what I felt for years each time I heard about someone’s promotion or vacation. Ok, I confess, even when they found an amazing deal on a new shirt.
I was bitter and jealous on the inside, but on the outside, I had a pleasant and complimentary smile.
It was an awful feeling.
The scriptures instruct not to covet anything that belongs to your neighbour (Exodus 20:17) and to be happy for those who are happy (Romans 12:15).
Yet the negative feelings grew.
So when I experience breakthrough, joy and excitement I find myself holding back on sharing not wanting to cause anyone else to feel bad.
Must-be-nice-syndrome is really a red flag signal that we are lacking in the self-care department.
There isn’t enough space and margins in our life so we can feel restored and refilled.
I lived this way for years.
Caring for the needs of others at work, at home and volunteering on the weekends. Soon I was resentful, frustrated and exhausted.
The beginning of the year is often about new goals, dreams and pursuits. But when you are in a place where joy, rest and fun are luxuries that you can’t afford it is easy to lose hope.
Life becomes an endless list of tasks and responsibilities. Frustration grows and exhaustion dominates.
This year I want to encourage you to seek hope.
Not achievement or success, or to lose those 10-20 pounds that you say every year.
But instead, seek to regain hope that life can be better than it was last year.
Hope is found in Jesus. Jesus provided hope and exemplified hope for us.
So let’s look at Him when he was busy serving the people.
Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus retreated from everyone else to rest alone or to pray by Himself (see Mark 1:9-13, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:30-32, Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-42).
Jesus knew that in order to be ready and prepared for more ministry he required rest. He was able to serve and give to others out of the renewal he received from rest and connection with God.
Jesus served others and he rested.
Self-care has earned a reputation that it is selfish. And I can see why people might think that. It says it in the name and the whole notion of self-care has really become popular in secular, humanistic circles.
However, I believe that the concept of tending to your mental, spiritual and physical needs is a Biblical concept. It is God’s way to refuel our souls and to allow us to be hopeful.
The goal of self-care is to not indulge and fulfill selfish desires. But it is to live out the great commandment which implies that we are to love one another as we love ourselves.
God wants us to be kind to ourselves and as a result to be restored and refilled. We, in turn, become strengthened to give to others again.
Self-care is not the golden ticket or a magic wand that is going to solve all the problems. But it is absolutely necessary if we want to have any longevity in supporting others.