You Can Overdo Kindness
Trying to follow Christ’s admonition to love one another as I have loved you, often leads a good-hearted person to over serve, neglect themselves and lower their self esteem.
Stress Can Cause In Self Neglect
Noble situations such as raising a handicapped child, helping an addict, caring for elderly parents or living in a difficult marriage are examples where the caregiver can quickly become overwhelmed. In order to keep the
situation from escalating, the caregiver surrenders personal needs; consequently self-care is neglected.
Love One Another Including Yourself
There are many examples in Christian doctrine of keeping good boundaries so you have plenty to give others and your love bucket stays full. One example is the following:
Parable Of The Good Samaritan As It Is Written
In St. Luke 10:30 of the bible, we find the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable tells that a certain man fell among thieves who stole his clothes, wounded him and left him half dead. A Good Samaritan came to his rescue bound his wounds, took him to an inn and paid for his stay. The Good Samaritan left money to care for him and said he would return.
If we retold the stories without the Samaritan having good boundaries or an adequate self-care plan, the parable might read like this:
…And when the Good Samaritan said he was leaving the man cried out, “Oh please don’t leave me now. Stay with me.” And so the Good Samaritan did as the man bid. But in staying the Good Samaritan was not able to keep his business flourishing so he lost all his money. After caring day and night for the man his strength was gone. Soon the Good Samaritan and the man were thrown out of the inn. Homeless and penniless they were soon both taken away and killed by thieves.
Consequences Of A Super Hero
The Good Samaritan was no use to himself or others when he gave up his own needs. Caregivers need boundaries and good self care. They may not literally be killed by thieves but instead suffer burn out and low self esteem. No one is superman and everyone has limits to time, patience and resources.
Utilize All Resources
Don’t try to go the distance by yourself—enlist team effort. Family members, government agencies and church resources are there if you seek help. If you have a hard time letting go you may need to do some honest soul searching about the pay offs to you and your need to rescue.
The illustration for this post is the world famous Pieta by Michelangelo. The sculpture speaks to Mary’s unspoken love and willingness to bare the burden of Christ’s lifeless body. Pieta, or pietas in Latin means,“dutifulness”. But when Michelangelo designed the sculpture Pieta, he purposely made her lap disproportionally large to empathize Mary’s strength; it is not true to life. Only a saint made of stone can dutifully carry burdens alone.
Helpful suggestions for caregivers from the NAMI Family to Family manual can be found here: https://utahmentalhealthservices.com/concerns/bi-polar/
Camille Curtis Foster
Contact Me/ 801.472.7134/ firstname.lastname@example.org
(Thanks to Karen DeBirk for the story concept)
Other posts about boundaries:
Additional Sources: Eyring, Henry B., The Caregiver, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-caregiver?
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