Self-care involves more than just taking care of our bodies—it means taking care of our souls, too. I offer two unusual examples of self-care that will help you move out of the darkness and into the Light. #forgiveness #selfcare #gift #darkness #light

Self-care involves more than just taking care of our bodies—it means taking care of our souls, too. I offer two unusual examples of self-care that will help you move out of the darkness and into the Light.

Self-care involves more than just taking care of our bodies—it means taking care of our souls, too. I offer two unusual examples of self-care that will help you move out of the darkness and into the Light. #forgiveness #selfcare #gift #darkness #light

The Darkness of the Soul

“I think we should visit your parents this Thanksgiving,” I said to Pedro over breakfast one morning last month. Our previous plans had fallen through, and we had a week with no responsibilities.

“I can’t believe you said that,” he exclaimed.

“Yeah,” I answered quietly. “I haven’t seen them in a few years, and it seems as if they really need our help figuring out what to do next.”

He didn’t realize that my suggestion came after days of prayer. I had a reason for not wanting to visit his parents—a selfish reason. A reason I had justified many times over the past three decades.

His mom and I get along like oil and vinegar. It takes great emotional energy on my part to spend more than five minutes with her.

Each time I walk into their house and see all the photos of our daughters posed and dressed like little girls from the 50s (instead of little girls from the 90s), bile claws its way up my throat.

While Pedro attended graduate school, his parents took the girls for an overnight visit each week. During this time, his mom did her best to make our children over into the image of what she thought they should be. Including unauthorized haircuts, scaring our girls into not playing in our back yard, and calling a lawyer to determine her rights as a grandparent.

My mother-in-law has never known a boundary she didn’t want to bust through.

Unusual Examples of Self-Care

I woke up one morning about a month ago and realized that the ire I had built up inside me served no positive purpose. In fact, it kept one part of me dangling over the darkness. I felt guilty for my bad relationship with my mother-in-law, but I didn’t know how to let go of over three decades of ire.

Sure, I’d prayed about the situation many times, but not in a systematic way. When I read 1 John 2:11, I felt even more convicted that the time had come.

“But the one who hates her mother-in-law is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where she’s going, because the darkness has blinded her eyes.”

HCSB (I changed the pronouns to ‘her’ and the word ‘brother’ for ‘mother-in-law.’ )
Self-care involves more than just taking care of our bodies—it means taking care of our souls, too. I offer two unusual examples of self-care that will help you move out of the darkness and into the Light. #forgiveness #selfcare #gift #darkness #light

In a season of literal darkness with shorter days and less light, I didn’t want to continue the darkness of my soul. I chose to give myself the gift of forgiveness this holiday season. Forgiving myself for my lousy attitude and forgiving my mother-in-law all her boundary crashing behaviors may seem like unusual examples of self-care.

But when we ditch emotional baggage, we make room for positive growth. My mother-in-law has never asked for forgiveness, but I need to give it anyway. I have clutched my resentment like a shawl on a cold winter morning, justifying my chilly attitude with a firm, “she deserves it.”

Although I forgive my students for their unruly, illogical, boundary-breaking behavior because I know they suffer from trauma, I have failed to offer the same grace to my mother-in-law. The time has come to reframe my negative attitude with one of kindness and curiosity.

In the darkness of winter where we celebrate the Light, I choose to give myself the gift of self-care by offering forgiveness to someone who has sinned against me. I choose to let go of the darkness and allow the Light to work in my soul.

Looking for unusual examples of #selfcare? Here's one you may have overlooked. #fmfparty #light Click To Tweet

13 Comments

  1. The darkness of the Stygian night,
    and my unforgiving soul
    admit no grace of healing light
    and take a lethal toll.
    Forgiveness is a mighty span
    from which pride’s thrown and sacrificed,
    and only in its crossing can
    one find the way the Christ.
    The winds of hell endeavour
    to blow us back to the place
    where self-satisfied and feeling clever
    we turn from God’s holy Face.
    But take just one step at a time
    and you’ll be in the arms of Joy Divine.

  2. This is so good! Offering forgiveness can seem like something we do for someone else but actually we benefit from it a lot too. I’ve never thought of it as self-care before, but it really is!

  3. Shedding unforgiveness is, indeed, a gift to oneself. Hold on to that gift. Just this past Sunday I started a list of people I need to forgive. I got down to number five (not sure if that’s a lot or just average) and noticed a name was missing. The person who hurt me both personally and professionally didn’t even make the list. I chose to forgive him, again and again, until it finally stuck. Now I’m even starting to forget, as well. Thank you, Jesus!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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