by Laura Hoffpaiur
Respect yourself. Sadly, self respect is a lesson I didn’t learn until late in life. The concept of “Love your neighbor as yourself” never made sense to me, so I just focused on the first three words, because I could understand that part. Eventually I came to realize that this commandment presupposes that I love myself - that this was actually a necessary part of the command.
Now that I am aware of this, I pay attention to my thoughts, the ways I speak to myself, and make sure they are in line with the way I would speak to others. I no longer dismiss compliments thinking “they don’t know the real me”, but instead I try to look for nuggets of truth about myself through the eyes of others. I respect myself as I would respect my neighbor. It’s not easy to change bad habits, especially bad patterns of thought, but I keep trying, and it definitely gets easier over time. I do it out of love for God, because I get it now. As a mother, I not only want my children to treat others well, but I want them to treat themselves with the respect and dignity they deserve. Looking back, it’s hard to see why it wasn’t obvious to me before that this is what God wants from me. When I don’t respect myself, how can I truly realize how precious I am to Him, how He cherishes me? Without a right relationship with myself, I can’t have a right relationship with God and with my neighbor.
So what are some things I do to invest in myself? I’ve never been the type to want what
people typically think of as “pampering”; I’m not into wine and manicures. But that’s okay. Part of respecting yourself is not trying to force yourself into someone else’s mold. I just needed to have a conversation with myself about what things bring me joy. I made lists, and even drew little sketches. Drawing isn’t something I excel at, but I’m a visual person, so I wanted that visual reference.
Once I had my list figured out, I just needed to find ways to prioritize these things. As I plan for each upcoming week, I add a little “me thing” in on almost every day, then I plan around that.
As you begin to prioritize self care, remember that the little things are often the most important. Going to sleep a little earlier when you can, staying well hydrated throughout the day, taking your vitamins, getting fresh air and sunshine, and taking a short walk are all things that support both your physical and mental well being, making you not only a happier person, but a better wife/mother/daughter/friend. I can be a good friend to myself by leaving the kitchen clean at night, so I don’t have to wake up to a mess in the morning. I can give myself a great gift by preparing a double meal and freezing one for a day that goes off the rails. I can bless myself and my family immensely by decluttering even just one small item a day, because over the weeks the progress will really add up, making it that much less drain on my time and energy.
Now it’s your turn. Your challenge is to think about why investing in you is important, what things relax or re-energize you, and how you can prioritize fitting them into your week. Be kind to yourself this week!
Laura Hoffpauir is passionate about learning and teaching. She has homeschooled her 6 children, taught small classes in homeschooling co-ops, and continues to provide tutoring services. She also enjoys crochet, crafts, birdwatching, word games, and live music of all kinds, from her daughters’ church choirs to her husband and son’s rock cover band, The Lakeshore Drivers.