Eat the Cookie, Buy the Shoes is quite possibly the worst titled Christian book of all time. I am sure, at the time, Joyce Meyer thought it was great…maybe she still does. I don’t know, and admittedly I’ve never read it because I just couldn’t get past the cover this whole time, but from what I gathered today, it appears to have something to do with self-care, which just isn’t typically my schtick.
But, today, I stumbled upon this book in my church’s loaner library, where my curiosity finally got the better of me and I pulled it off the shelf and quickly stashed it in my fair trade mom bag (a.k.a giant, cluttered and heavy purse hand made by women in the third world who may have had acid thrown at her at some point). I hoped nobody saw me grab it because, well, that title is so not my style.
My style, for better or worse, is giving until it hurts. I’ll buy the shoes, but only if they are fair trade and helping some mom keep her baby or helping a girl quit her sex trade job she was forced into by her family as a child (or if they’re resale maybe and my other option is going barefoot).
I am not the woman who will eat the cookie normally because one of my kids wants it and I’d rather consume their precious smile after receiving it. Of course, I might eat the cookie if there is only one and three kids, and then I’ll eat it quietly in the pantry so they don’t have to know there are no more cookies to be had.
I put myself last. I always have and I always thought that’s what I was supposed to do. I thought that was best. And I still think sometimes it is. I don’t need to eat a cookie. It’s a treat after all, and if it is between me eating a cookie and someone else getting a meal or even that cookie, I’ll choose to give.
The Bible does talk about considering others better than ourselves. It talks about loving others. It talks about selflessness. And I was pretty darn good at playing the selfless part. I think we moms do that pretty instinctively.
The problem arose when I finally realized I had moved past selflessness into sin.
It wasn’t about cookies or shoes anymore. It started small, of course, but I soon found I wasn’t cooking food I even enjoyed so I wasn’t eating proper meals at all. I wasn’t making time for daily showers. I wasn’t exercising, or seeing friends, getting dressed all the way in the morning, sleeping enough, taking vitamins, or talking to my mom on the phone. I was biting my lip literally rather than voicing my own concerns. I had let life and all the needs of all the little people, of my husband, of my home, and of others steal me away from me.
No longer was I merely selfless, I had abandoned myself.
I had spent so much time pushing myself down so that I could be there for someone else, that I wasn’t even myself anymore.
As it turns out, I’m pretty co-dependent. My desire to take care of other people out of love had turned to caring for others out of pride, and in the process I rejected the gift God gave me, in me.
The Gift of Self
He gave me my own personality, my own interests and my own calling, and as long as I was doing all those other things – things that seemed good and right – I wasn’t doing the things I was actually made for, and I wasn’t taking care of the gift of me.
Some people hate the idea of self-care, and I used to be one of them. I hated anything that had the word self in it, which by default meant I was hating my self. Maybe I never thought about it that way. I’d never have said I hated myself, but my actions were not loving toward myself.
I also really hated the notion of self-love, and I have always considered it unbiblical, quite honestly. Yet, now, without seeing it as I need to oooh and aaah over me, I can see that my actions need to be loving toward myself – self-love.
Yes, of course, I need to love others, but first I need to be loving toward myself, so that I recognize and celebrate the gift of God that is me.
What Healthy Self-Love and Self-Care Really Looks Like (I Think)
Self-love, to me, looks like taking care of the gift God has given each of us, individually. That means eating right, exercising, sleeping, making healthy choices, spending time with God consistently, and making use of the gifts God has given us to share with the world. It’s not about shoes, and it certainly isn’t about cookies, for heaven’s sake!
Life is More than Cookies and Shoes
However, when I need shoes, it means buying the shoes. When I am stressed it means taking a long, hot bath and reading a chapter of whatever book I wish I could finish without a thousand interruptions. Maybe it means a massage or making sure I have clothes to wear that aren’t stained from spit up or my son’s greasy fingers. It means not feeling guilty for taking a break, or for having something reasonably nice for once.
Self-care is about taking care of my needs, and it isn’t about superficial nonsense.
It means reminding myself who God says I am. I means standing in the mirror speaking out loud the loving words of God over my life. It means standing on the truth even when others are speaking lies into you.
Sometimes it means taking a break or walking away. Sometimes, it’s messy, but love is messy, and when I fail to take care of me, to love me, well, that’s far messier.
It’s really like the old oxygen mask analogy. If you don’t take care of yourself, there just won’t be much of you to go around and care for others in short time.
You are not invincible, and neither am I. Believing we are, believing we can do it all, believing we have to be all things for all people, … that is pride, not love.
In the end, love yourself because you’re worthy of love. Love yourself because He loves you. Love yourself because He made you in a way that demands it. Love yourself because He made you, and because you just need to be you, not Him.
Be still and know He is God, and you are His beautiful, precious creation.