Wednesday 2 October 2013

Caring for onesself

In a recent issue of Meeting Place, (the magazine of ANZMES, the CFS support society for New Zealand) I was struck by three articles placed close together.

The first was by a Christian woman with whom I have corresponded over the years.  She made a complete recovery from CFS a few years back and was writing here about the therapy through which God healed her: Mickel Therapy.  It is a talking therapy and is based on three principles.  In my words, they are:
  1. being honest/not being afraid of creating waves
  2. looking after your body and your needs
  3. not letting people abuse/manipulate you.
Although the therapy is secular, she was keen to emphasise how these were principles that she has since been seeing again and again as she reads the Bible.  The principles all seem to me to deal with different kinds of looking after yourself.
Soon after this article came two more.  One was from a woman who had recently been on a holiday on a cruise ship.  While she was on the cruise she found her health greatly improved.  She wondered if this might be because she wasn't pressuring herself to get things done, so when she returned to NZ she put in place some strategies to limit how hard she pushed herself day to day.  Since doing so, her health has been much better than it's been in years.  The other was from a man whose quality of life greatly improved once he learned to live within his limits and look after himself better.

It was both encouraging and scary to see what a difference learning to look after themselves had made in the lives of these three people.

It reminded me of something we'd been discussing in our Bible study group a few weeks earlier.  We're studying Paul's letter to the Colossian church and, on the week in question, were looking at Colossians 3:5-17.  In verses 12-15 Paul says:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
We talked about whether this meant that we should just let other people walk over us (something that I believe the church often encourages women, in particular, to do).  However, we concluded that it probably actually meant an active and strong kind of love for other people: the kind of thing you can only do if you are deeply established in Christ (something that Paul was talking about in the previous chapter).

How sad (and scary!) to think that the church, by taking passages like this in isolation and using them to encourage people to let others treat them badly, may actually be encouraging people to do something that could leave them significantly ill for years on end!

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