A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘health

Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a pilot, or maybe it’s just that I’m a nervous flyer, but I always look at the safety brochure on a plane and listen to the explanation about where the exits are and what to do if the oxygen masks drop down during the flight.

We know it’s important to put on our own oxygen mask so that we’re able to take care of others, yet in our day-to-day lives, how many of us fail to meet our need for a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, or even medical care because someone else in the family might need something—and we have to be the one to meet that need?

Some readers might be nodding, thinking, “Yes, I practically have to beg my spouse to go to the doctor or take time off to rest.” At the same time, others might be wondering why their spouse makes time to take care of their family but not their own health.

Maybe we feel virtuous if we don’t slow down or if we try always to put others first. If that sounds familiar, read these words from Sirach 18:19*:

Before you speak, learn,

and before you fall ill, take care of your health.

If we work ourselves to exhaustion, whether inside or outside the home, what good will we be to our family? If we don’t eat properly, exercise, get enough rest, and see the doctor when we need to, will we enjoy a healthy retirement? Will we make it to our retirement years? Will we have the energy to fulfill our work or volunteer commitments, let alone appreciate our leisure time?

We may tell ourselves that we’ll have time to rest and be rejuvenated on the weekend, on our vacation, during our retirement, or (grimly) when we die. But if our to-do list doesn’t include self-care—dental, medical and eye doctor visits; healthy meals; some kind of fitness routine—we won’t be in any kind of shape to enjoy that downtime. And we need to remember that we aren’t guaranteed any tomorrows; God alone knows when this life will end:

Do not boast about tomorrow,

for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

~ Proverbs 27:1

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.”

~ James 4:14-15

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

The past few weeks have been packed with activity. Besides the regular routine, I took my son to a couple of appointments and a confirmation class, wrapped Christmas presents, stocked up on household staples for the holidays, and prepared for a music recital and a taekwon-do test. It’s been busy rather than stressful.

On Friday, I was feeling proud of myself for everything I’d accomplished: vacuuming, floor cleaning and snow shovelling, on top of my everyday chores. I was patting myself on the back…and then I remembered that God created light on the first day (see Genesis 1). It was a healthy dose of perspective!

The ridiculous thing is that I didn’t need to get all those things done that day. And I could have asked for more help from my son, even if it might have been given reluctantly.

Today, as I braved the crowds to get groceries and run a couple of errands, I needed this reminder once more:

Learn to let others do their share of the work. Things may be done less well, but you will have more peace of soul and health of body. And what temporal interest should we not sacrifice in order to gain these blessings?

~ St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, quoted in “Celebrate November 2013,” Catholic Digest

How often do we insist on wrapping Christmas presents and sending out cards ourselves because no one will do these tasks the same way we do? Or how about folding the laundry, loading the dishwasher or cooking meals? Do we wear ourselves out so chores are done “the right way,” or do we allow other people to bless us with their help?

If we still hesitate to share the load, we may need another reminder not to run ourselves ragged at the expense of our physical and spiritual health, this time from Sirach 30:15-16*:

Health and soundness are better than all gold,

and a robust body than countless riches.

There is no wealth better than health of body,

and there is no gladness above joy of heart.

As we carry out our last-minute chores, cleaning and Christmas preparations, may we acknowledge that our celebration need not be perfect—it needs to be focussed on celebrating our Saviour’s birth and on sharing God’s love with our loved ones, friends and neighbours. And may we carry with us into the year ahead the knowledge that we can accept others’ help.

Speaking of the new year, I’m taking a short break from this blog to spend more time with my family over the holidays, but I’ll be back on January 2nd!

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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