Women tend to do things with their whole heart.
We tend not to merely dip our toes in the water. It’s common to be ‘all or nothing’. We either do a thing and pursue it with a strength of conviction that will carry us through dark stormy days. Or we don’t. Unfortunately for our health we tend not to spend a lot of time on how we can support our bodies; these temples of the Holy Spirit that the Lord has entrusted to our care. As a result we are depriving the Church of our ability to live out our mission, something the Church desperately needs.
You may be thinking that sounds harsh and extreme but bear with me for a moment. In my experience, and I’m guessing the same is true for you, when I gather with any group of women, whether single, married, young, or old, a question as innocent as “How are you?” is met with “Well I’ve been struggling with _________” (insert health issue here). And the loving friends who cherish this struggling woman give sympathy, suggest all different kinds of support, and jump in to help solve the problem. After all, friends are able to advocate in a unique way. You can tell your friend, with certainty, they deserve better than living in pain, with endless sleepless nights caused by such a frustrating lack of answers. But I want to challenge you today to see your own health differently. Imagine you are the one on the receiving end of your friends’ well intended advice. That it’s your cross of __________ (insert health issue here) that is being discussed. Do you feel as adamant that this is not okay to suffer with, that you deserve better? Do we advocate for our own health in the same way we would for a dear friend? As Catholic women, it’s hard not to see self-care as selfish. We have an ‘offer it up’ mentality. And don’t get me wrong, Scripture definitely calls us to unite our daily sufferings with the sufferings of Christ, but what we are not asked to do is carry a cross that is heavier than it ought to be.
Let’s make this a little more concrete.
Perhaps you think you have a mineral deficiency. Could that be the strange thing with your finger nails? Is there something to that rash? Or the dry flaky scalp? What about hormones? Is there something behind the severe cramping during your period? Or extreme menopausal swings? Problems like these might seem small but still, they are not okay. Us women know how much of an impact they have on us. And they especially impact our ability to live out our unique mission in the Lord.
When I hear of symptoms like these, I know that it’s time to ask questions and dig deep. Are you struggling with a leaky gut, which will prevent even the most beautiful, diverse diet from being absorbed into the cells? Or are you so busy and hurried all the time, you can’t eat the right foods for nourishing your body? What about supporting your blood sugar levels? Is your blood sugar dysregulated, leading you to be short-fused, jittery, and anxious? And how are those blood sugar levels affecting your hormones? When your blood sugar is dysregulated, it can throw off your balance of hormones, and worse yet, lead to surging levels of damaging stress hormones. All these symptoms are telling you something is not right.
Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and needs to function optimally to serve the Lord. So why do we so often ignore our symptoms?
Because that’s not the end of the story. There’s something else, something equally important to shine light on, that we need to take care of: your relationship with yourself!
We can’t just keep trudging along, expecting our health to improve, unless we also shift our mindset.
Because we cannot heal our bodies if we are operating from a place of disliking ourselves. When we don’t love ourselves, there’s really no end to the damage that can be done. So if you have a toxic mean girl upstairs berating your every step and countering your every thought about prioritizing YOU, then you need to take steps to heal your mindset and ultimately your relationship with yourself. Authentic, holy self care takes time. And it means we have to prioritize ourselves. Whether that means eating healthy, finding exercise that you enjoy, or being intentional about doing things that fill up your cup.
You have such a beautiful, complex body and when something does go wrong, it’s okay, in fact it’s necessary, to take a close look at all aspects of your ownemotional, spiritual, and physical health.
After all, that’s what we’d do for our dear, cherished friends. Why wouldn’t you do that for yourself?
Friend, the Lord has fashioned a cross for you.
It is your perfect fit for growing in holiness and sanctification. But if you are carrying things that the Lord has asked you to put down, then you need to listen again to the Gospel passage. Our Lord is saying to you now, “My yoke is easy, my burden light.” It doesn’t mean your cross will go away but it will be light enough so that you can love what it is He has called you to love in this world. And to do it well.
If you want help learning how to walk your own journey of healing, Rita Johnson, is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who accompanies women on their health journey with nutrition & lifestyle support, and at home lab testing.