I moved down here to Ecuador over 9 months ago now (CRAZY!) and it's taken me until about two weeks ago to remember something I learned almost 7 years ago! That is that you can't take care of anyone else unless you're first taking care of yourself!
I use to be pretty fit and I took a lot of care to exercise and eat healthy every day. Sadly over the past several years that hasn't been exactly true of my life and my body and my soul have paid the price for it! Since moving to Saraguro, my teammates and I have put a lot of focus on taking care our ourselves spiritually and making sure that we are filling up on Christ so that we can be poured out for Him in our community! This got me thinking about the other areas of my life where I need to "fill up" in order to be able to be "poured out". And although exercising and eating healthy don't seem like things that would fit into that category at first glace, the more I thought about it (and actually started doing it) the more I've realized they most certainly do!
Over the past two weeks I've made a more concerted effort to exercise five times a week and to cook a majority of my meals at home using the fresh veggies and fruits from our local farmers market. I've also started drinking more water and going to bed early enough to be able to get at least 8 hours of sleep (although sometimes that just means me laying in bed quietly resting and not actually sleeping until I'm down to more like 6 hours). These are all practical things....healthy ways to take care of myself....and I honestly can feel the difference they make in how I feel!
I use to think, especially when I first moved to Ecuador, that I couldn't take the time to exercise or do any of those other things to focus on myself. I moved here to share the message of the gospel and my focus was suppose to be Christ and others...not me! Now I'm realizing it's okay to put myself on that list...in fact it's important! When I take care of me, when I give myself some priority, I have more energy, feel better and can go longer...and that makes a huge impact on how I am able to minister!
It's pretty easy to put yourself on the back burner in life and to take care of everyone else before yourself. It's even possible to feel guilty for taking care of yourself, especially when you have a very relational "Job". But no matter how true each of those things are, it's just as true and even more okay to take time for yourself! God can use anything to glorify His name, but it's a lot easier to give Him your everything when you've put in the effort to take care of the body He's given you! So here's to taking care of myself in order for God to use me to take care of others!