This is the time of year I find myself inundated by personal and professional demands on my time.
The fact that I have six more Sunday services to plan and lead before Christmas seems overwhelming. It’s a time when a lot of people start feeling the pressures of the holiday season and need a loving shoulder to cry on.
In the midst of this, I find myself preparing for a ministerial retreat in North Carolina next week. On the national scene, it’s time to start planning travel for denominational events in the spring and summer.
In addition, on a personal level, I always find myself struggling to balance my work and home life this time of year and have some semblance of a personal life. I also find myself waiting until the last minute to do my holiday shopping because it just seems like one more thing to do.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, that’s a lot of stuff all at once!
If I’m not intentional, I can find it difficult to balance all of these demands on my time. And that’s been a growing edge for so much of our culture. We live in a world that is so driven by constant demands on our time and desire to achieve our goals and make the world a better place. We’re surrounded by images of the heroic person sacrificing their own needs for those of others, and, for my part, I tend to internalize them and convince myself I need to be Superperson, fighting for the oppressed, the downtrodden, and those who need me.
But, if I’m not careful, I will forget to take care of one person: myself. If I do so much that I burn out, how am I of any use to anyone?
To quote the writer and poet Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Lorde realized that a prerequisite to any sort of meaningful action in the world is to take care of the person I am with all the time, myself. It’s not a selfish act, but a prerequisite to any sort of meaningful work. After all, if I can’t provide for myself, how do I expect to be of service to anyone else.
It’s not noble to sacrifice my physical and mental health; it’s short-sighted and, ultimately, dangerous to my sanity.
As this holiday season ramps up, I want to give you permission to do something every day that feeds your body, mind, and soul, and helps you recharge even as your personal and professional calendar fills up with more and more demands. Schedule it in as an appointment if necessary, but, whatever you do, make sure you do it! Even if it’s an hour with Netflix, a walk around the neighborhood with your dog, or simply stopping and dancing to your favorite music, your whole being will thank you for the opportunity.
After all, you matter to this world just as much as all the other people in your life. Act like it and treat yourself to a little bit of fun!
Rev. Chris Rothbauer (they/them/their) is minister of Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. A native of Southern Indiana, they live in Auburn with their partner, a senior rescue beagle, and a spoiled rotten cat. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.