The Importance of Taking Care of Ourselves
Letter from Nicole Schmidt
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For as long as I can remember I’ve tried to convince everyone around me (and myself) that I can do everything. I think deep down I thought that if I could show everyone the capable, reliable, and strong Nicole that they wouldn’t see how fragile, delicate, and weak I really am. This weakness that I wanted so desperately to conceal is something I’ve struggled against all my life: quite simply my poor health. I never really thought it was that big of a problem; sure I’d broken bones, a concussion, a brush with skin cancer and depression, often being ill with colds or the flu, feeling sick to my stomach for weeks sometimes months at a time, but worst of all it often happened that all the little instances of un-wellness added up to not remembering what it’s like to feel well.
It was during one such time that my thoughts woke me up to the reality that was my life: I thought about the fact that when I’m in heaven I will never feel this pain and discomfort; I will just be well. I couldn’t stand the thought of living my (God-willing) 60-80 more years of life in this state of ill health and having to wait until I’m in heaven to feel well, like can you even imagine! So after years of ignoring my body’s pain I finally sought help from a health professional. My Naturopathic Doctor was able to tell me that I have sensitivities to lactose and onions (still tear up about this sometimes, but at least I don’t cry from cutting onions anymore), and I just all around have a wrecked gut (antibiotics do that to some people apparently), so she is working with me to build up that gut health so my body can do what it’s supposed to do!
A few weeks later I was talking to my friend about the changes I’d made in my life to help me be well and the reason I’d been prompted to do so, and he said something that changed my whole outlook on the situation: “Not even remembering what it’s like to feel good is not the life God has for us.”
For some reason, I’d never thought about God in all this. Sure I often prayed in the moment for Him to take away my suffering or offer it up for some intention; and it seems silly to say now, but I’d carried this burden for so long that it didn’t even occur to me that making me well was part of God’s plan for my life, or that it was even possible. Satan used this lie to cripple me and keep me from living my life to the fullest for too long, but I know now that although sometimes we must carry crosses of physical suffering, God made us for abundant life and He desires that we be healthy and well – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
In fact, I think that by caring for ourselves in order to stay healthy we’re actually better able to love God and those around us. I was getting sick so often that I wasn’t able to love others because I could hardly take care of myself. I know that sometimes we can’t prevent illness – sickness related to pregnancy or diseases that can’t necessarily be prevented through self-care – but for me my illness was something that for the most part I could handle through taking better care of myself. By getting enough sleep and rest, exercising, eating properly, avoiding certain foods, and taking a few supplements I’m finally feeling well and more like myself again. And besides all this, I was reminded recently that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God literally dwells within me! So it’s an act of love of God to care tenderly for my own body just as I do for those I love. Every time I shower, or get enough sleep, or go for a run, or eat the right food, or even just take time to myself to relax and recharge, I’m caring for my body and ultimately God’s temple!
And dear sister we must not forget that we are body and soul, and our bodies are a gift from God that we must not squander. It would be like if a friend gave you a beautiful plant for your birthday but you neglected it and let it wither. Just as plants can only bear fruit when they are tenderly cared for, our bodies and souls can only bear fruits of love and service when they are healthy.
Now don’t get the wrong idea, I did none of this alone: it was only after many breakdowns, weeks of thinking I should see someone about it but not making the appointment, and finally telling my closest friends how I was feeling that they literally forced me to make the appointment and came with me to the doctor’s office. If you’re like me and have a slightly irrational fear of going to the doctor, ask your family or friends for support. They want what’s best for you and I’m sure they’d be honored to do whatever they can to help you! And I promise that God will give you the grace you need to get through it! For too long I downplayed my health because getting colds didn’t seem to bother other people that much so why should I make a big deal of it, and I’d lived with these digestive issues so long that it became just another part of my normal life. But dear sister, don’t ignore your body’s cries for help like I did for so long. Not all bodies need the same care, but all bodies need to be cared for, so even if God has blessed you with good health self-care is still important.
I still fail and I still have rough days (or days when a sore stomach is worth it for the cheesecake) but it’s getting better. I thought I’d never feel well again, but here I am healthy, happy, and amazed at what our Lord can do. Praise God for healing and caring health practitioners!
“This is the promise I make to my God: I will never again be so careless, so cavalier with the body and soul you’ve given me.” -Shauna Niequist
All my love,
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Hi friends! I’m Nicole! I was born and raised between the mountains and the ocean on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. I’m 21-years-old, single, and currently working on (God-willing) my last year of my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology. I also get to work with kiddos who have autism (and it’s both the best and hardest job I have ever had)! Over the past few years I’ve been involved in youth ministry through my parish and just this past year have become more involved in young adult ministry, working with Catholic Christian Outreach at my university campus! I’d say that my personality is defined by my extreme enthusiasm and delight in even the simplest things, and the fact that I’m almost constantly laughing. I am excessively passionate about flowers, plants, stationary, ethical fashion, and film photography. My favourite things to do include hiking, reading, baking, camping, going to the beach and swimming in the ocean or a lake!
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