All sorts of things pop up on social media and more often than not we are snared to read memes or watch videos without really thinking about it. This happened to me recently with a video about some fashion designer (sorry, forgot the name as this is way out of my range of interest) who apparently had a rough personal history and only found her calling late in life.
What made me really angry about this video was the contrast between “I have cared for other people all my life and was hurt and rejected” and “Now I only care for myself and am successful and happy”.
Sorry, folks, but that really made me sick. I understand perfectly that there are many women out there who get hurt and subdued and I truly believe it is necessary to care for oneself. But not for selfish reasons. There is nothing wrong with investing in family, friends and community. There is nothing wrong with investing, even if you get nothing back. But in my opinion, there is something seriously wrong with focusing on oneself with the sole aim of putting oneself ahead of others.
Why? Because women aren’t made that way. It is ingrained in us to care and to support. That is our original task, given to us by our maker. (Look it up in the Bible, Genesis 1, 18-24.) We were made to help. Turning our back on this task is not going to make us happy. Revolving around ourselves is not going to make us happy.
So why do so many memes that are meant to give value to women and to raise awareness for women’s needs often contradict our caring nature, calling women to put their first priority on themselves without following up with a life purpose? And we are agreed that we need a purpose in life, right? If there is no purpose to our existence, we feel totally and utterly useless and lost.
I have found the solution in the command that Jesus referred to as the most important of all.
37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 “This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22)
There is an order to this. First, God loves you. Then you love God. When you understand that God loves you, no matter what, you will be able to love yourself. And when you love yourself, then you are capable of loving others.
Many women have suffered violence and abuse, both physical and/or mental. I am no exception. And in my experience, the capability of caring for myself, accepting myself as a valuable human being, loving myself and not feeling worthless could never have happened if I had not understood that I am unconditionally loved by God. You could have told me a hundred times and more that I should take care of myself, should love myself and I could not have done it.
I didn’t know how. But now I do (Thank you, God!) and it fills me. I am not responsible for loving myself and caring for myself. God does that. All I have to do is accept it. And then I can go and open my hands and my heart and let it pour out to others. There is not only purpose in that, there’s also fulfillment. Satisfaction.
It doesn’t mean life is all pink fluffy unicorns. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a care in the world. It doesn’t mean I’ll never get hurt or disappointed again. It means I’m no longer lost and I know where to turn with my pain. It means the people around me benefit from my presence. It means I can make this world that little bit better.
With your eyes locked onto yourself and your own needs, that’s not going to happen. And if women stop caring for the people around them, we have failed on an epic scale.