I was on our dream 10th anniversary vacation in Mexico, but I couldn’t enjoy it.
I was huddled in our hotel room, curled in a ball in bed with horrific stomach pains. My husband Mike and I had been out to dinner earlier that evening at a beautiful restaurant with a second floor table overlooking the ocean. The waiter wrapped my food to go, my stomach too cramped and unsettled to eat more than a few nibbled bites.
I had visited my doctor the week before our trip, but she didn’t have many answers for me. “Lately, I’ve seen 2 or 3 women a day with problems just like yours,” she mentioned to me. I left the office frustrated and agitated.
I knew what my doctor was telling me without telling me.
I was over-giving to others and not taking care of myself.
At that point in my life, I weighed over 250 lbs and was binging on junk food in secret on a regular basis. My husband and I had 3 young children of our own, plus provided foster care for medically fragile babies. The needs of our little children plus ministry at the church where my husband is a pastor, was sending me into an emotional tailspin.
I wanted to make changes in my life yet I felt powerless to stop the cycles of overgiving. I had set up my life so that everyone needed me so much, all the time.
How could I make any changes when everyone in my life needed me desperately?
Lies People Who Give Too Much Believe
During this time when I was over-giving to others, I did not believe it was possible to carve out time to care for myself. These are some of the phrases that ran through my mind during that time:
- My children need me constantly.
- My foster children can’t make it without my care.
- My church work is too significant to let any of it go.
- There is no one else who could care for them better.
- If I don’t do it, no one else will.
- Good moms put their families first.
If you are currently in a season of over-giving, what are some of the phrases you say to yourself about your current situation?
While there was a bit of truth contained in these statements, none was fully true.
The Truth About Giving
Satan is the Father of lies, and he will keep you bound in half-truths. The real truth is that you sometimes run head-long into deeply care giving for others when facing your own tough stuff is too scary.
A helpful question to ask yourself at these times is, “Whose needs am I taking care instead of my own?”
When I was 100 lbs heavier than I am today, facing up to my addictions and unhealthy habits was terrifying. As tough as taking on too much care giving was, it was still easier than facing my fears.
You may not be facing an eating addiction like I was, but perhaps you are in the newborn baby care season, or the soccer mom always-in-the-car season. Maybe you work a highly demanding job, or care for an aging parent.
This may not mean you a person who gives too much. You may simply be in the middle of a tough life season. But be aware that it’s amazingly easy to slip into over-giving.
In the midst of the continual going, carving out time for yourself feels not just difficult, but borders on neglectful.
Taking care of yourself is not neglectful of others.
Your need for exercise, time for work, time with your husband, or to do nothing at all, is equally important — and at times equally scary to face.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 1:2
The Solution for a Person Who Gives Too Much
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
When you are a person who gives too much, it is tempting to feel completely overwhelmed. Do not lose heart! Even very small changes will move you forward in a new direction with significance. Here’s what to consider:
- Give yourself grace. Whatever season you are in right now, accept it with grace and compassion. Find blessings and ways to have gratitude for this stage.
- Accept that it’s okay to have needs. It’s hard to admit you have needs. Be honest about the needs you have — physical, emotional, spiritual.
- Pray for direction. What changes do you need to make to move toward a more healthy you?
- Ask your support people for help. Seek help from the support people in your life, such as your spouse, parents, and friends. This link provides step-by-step directions for how to have those conversations.
Remember the stomach pains I was suffering from? Those totally disappeared when I started eating better, exercising, and reducing stress in my life.
My life is a continual balancing act, just like everyone else’s, but I’ve learned to make myself a priority in a new way.
Are you a person who gives too much, or have you been in the past? If you are now, what steps will you take to make gradual changes?