As I opened the writer’s dashboard on my substack webpage, a pop-up introduced a new feature called “Notes.” This apparently is a space to share what I’m reading and keep up with my favorite writers on Substack. I wonder how you would respond to that news? I suspect many of you would ignore it; others would get excited and maybe even click on a few of the suggested links like this one: “Over 262,000 have signed up to read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” serialized in his free Substack newsletter, Dracula Daily….” (Really?? Oh, my word.) My response, however, was none of the above: I immediately felt guilty and then overwhelmed. You see, I don’t have any favorite writers on Substack because I don’t read—on Substack, that is. I mean, how do people do this? I can’t keep up with the material that is on my reading apps and the books that are crammed on the side of my bed, never mind stuff that is on the web. (I just checked, and there are at least six unfinished books on my app and three more by my bedside.) Oh, dear. I am supposed to be writing about practicing peace, but in less than 5 minutes, I managed to destroy the bubble of peace that had enveloped me after my prayer time this morning. You’ll have to excuse me for a minute. I need to go and watch a cute video of my baby grandson, Finn, to recover…
I’m back, and I feel better. You see, watching the video of Finn reminded me of my priorities, and this was the reset I needed. (Question: Do you have a particular way that you like to reset?) As I watched the video of my grandson, I remembered that time spent with Finn/God/other people is the reason why I don’t always finish a book, keep up with the news or manage to work on my business. It’s not that learning isn’t important; it’s just that loving God, others, and myself are the greater priority, according to Kingdom Counsel (KC). In last week’s post, I wrote about how using KC to set your priorities can facilitate peace in your lives, even if you sometimes (often?) get pulled off track by a stupid pop-up on your writing platform or a random post on Instagram 🙄. Yes, it takes focus and practice (again and again), but in time, you may find yourself scrolling less and walking with a friend more. KC helps us remember what is important so that when a demand to consume more information, media, or any other distraction comes our way, we can navigate through it with little or no reset.
Last week, we looked at Jesus’ teaching, which explains that loving God is the greatest commandment (see Matt 22:37-40). That is the reason why time spent getting to know God and love Him is the primary filter to run your priorities through. If we’re honest, many of us spend more time on Netflix or social media than we do with God. If that’s you and you’d like to change that, I suggest starting small when making time for Him. (It will be easier to build the habit if you don’t feel overwhelmed by trying to fit one more thing into your day.) Consider hijacking something you already do and invite God in. For example, if you have a commute to work, turn the radio off and talk to God. Or you can try what I did when I committed to spending more time with God: I kept a small devotional in the bathroom and read it daily while I did my (ahem)…business. Once I got over feeling bad that God was relegated to toilet time (I’m cringing thinking about it😬), I settled in and enjoyed my time in my make-shift prayer closet. That was the beginning of a (now) daily habit of spending time to get to know God.
The other part of the above-mentioned Scripture (Matt 22:37-40) says that the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. Consider this exhortation to be a second filter to run your priorities through. So, let me ask you, how are you doing at loving yourself in body, soul, and spirit? This is a serious question to consider because we will only be able to love others to the degree that we love ourselves. That may come as a shock to some of you who feel like you pour yourself out for others, but if it’s at the expense of loving yourself, you could be doing better. There’s a reason that the safety briefing for flying includes the instruction to put your own oxygen mask on first. Caring for others is best accomplished if we first care and love ourselves well. (Yes, I’m talking to you, parents.)
So again, I ask the question, is loving yourself a priority for you? How do you know? Here are a few points to help you consider the answer:
- Do you prioritize eating well? How much time and thought do you put into eating well and eating joyfully? (Joyful eating is an earmark of self-love.)
- Do you make time to move your body regularly in a way that brings you pleasure and joy? (Routinely beating yourself up with punishing workouts can be as unloving as not making any time for movement. Your body has arms and legs for a reason.)
- Is your self-talk uplifting and encouraging, or do you speak to yourself in disparaging tones?
- Do you set healthy boundaries with others, or do you allow yourself to be manipulated or controlled?
- Do you have healthy limits on what and how much you consume on television or social media? Have you considered that what you watch/consume could be damaging to your mental health or spiritual walk?
- Have you learned how to identify and express your emotions in a healthy manner, or do you shut down or tantrum?
- Do you prioritize sleep?
- Do you drink enough water each day?
- When was the last time you had a physical? Dental cleaning?
- Have you made a plan to deal with any overwhelming debt you have?
I could go on, but hopefully, you get the point. Loving ourselves well means taking care of our bodies, emotions, and spiritual health. We accomplish that by using the filter of physical and mental self-care to help prioritize the demands on our time. There will never be enough time in the day to accomplish everything we want to do (or what others want us to do.) So, why not decide to take one step toward loving yourself well today? What will you do? Take a walk? Order some groceries? Turn off your phone and go to bed? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 👇🏻
NOTE: Stay tuned next week for how to use the command to love others to help set your priorities and practice peace.