I’ve been reading Elizabeth Esther’s blog, http://www.elizabethesther.com/ for awhile. (Sorry I couldn’t do a shortened link. Technical difficulties, and I’m worked up enough about this issue that I wasn’t about to try to fight with the darn computer.) She wrote about how beauty and color are helping her heal from PTSD. I had gotten into a mindset where I was afraid to spend money on anything enjoyable or colorful because I was afraid of getting more lectures about how there are starving children in Africa who need my money. (Side note: While it’s absolutely true that there are starving children in Africa, why is that all anyone ever talks about? There are starving children in the U.S., people!) Now I know that there are things we can reasonably do to help those children, and depriving myself of what I need to heal is not one of them. Forbidding myself to paint my nails or hang decorations on my walls is not going to help. Sponsoring children is much more effective and I don’t have to kill my soul to do it.
One of the most hurtful things someone ever told me was, “You don’t have real problems. You aren’t precious. Children in Africa are precious and they have real problems.”
This is one of the reasons I don’t feel comfortable in churches anymore. For the most part, self-care and mental health are subjects that are stigmatized or even forbidden in some circles. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do what we can to address the issue of poverty. But it’s a complex, systemtic problem that can’t be fixed overnight, and if service is more important than people, then we have a serious problem.