Christians are guided by numerous verses in the Bible telling us to lead a life of unselfishness. This is definitely a very important aspect of the Christian creed, so why is it so hard? One of the most commonly quoted verses regarding unselfishness in marriage is:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So, why is it that so often that we find such verses very difficult to fulfill? Though our husbands are supposed to be the most important to us, second to God, sometimes we still have a very hard time following though on this guidance. Is there something wrong with us? Really, why can it be so hard sometimes?
I’d like to propose that many wives have significant difficulty achieving Christianity’s ideal of the perfect unselfish person/wife because, much too often, taking care of ourselves is OVERLY de-prioritized, and this actually causes us to be able to care for others minimally. Let me give you an example.
My amazing mother has been widowed twice and went through a particularly large amount of difficult and trying times when her second husband was dying of brain cancer. She confided in me that the hospice nurses were responsible for my mother’s being able to make it though it all because they very firmly reminded her that her first responsibility as a caregiver was to care for the caregiver! They asserted that if she did not take care of herself, she would be in no shape to take proper care of her husband. So, if she really loved her husband and wanted to care for him in the best manner, she would first prioritize caring for herself.
How can this be Biblical according to the constant barrage of “be unselfish” and “put others first” that we Christians receive from other Christians? Lets look at this verse:
Mark 12:31 The second most important command is this: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself. These two commands are the most important.”
Hopefully, you are already looking at this verse from a slightly new perspective. 🙂 If you are constantly de-prioritizing your own needs, then following this verse would cause to also de-prioritize your neighbors’ needs; that doesn’t work! Only by properly caring for and loving yourself can you properly care for and love your husband and neighbors!
Even Jesus took time out to be alone with God, to rest, to eat proper meals, and to get physical exercise. Yet, I know too many women who frequently neglect these very basic necessities of caring for oneself. What? Did Jesus exercise? At a bare minimum, Jesus walked… everywhere. Need I say more? Let’s also look at these verses regarding exercise: