I’m currently at odds with Sunday. Yes, I experience conflicting emotions about days of the week. Welcome to my world. On Sundays, if I have experiences I find difficult, I try to regain balance by also doing something fun which restores rather than depletes me. Over the last year, I’ve begun to embrace the narrative that self-care is not selfishness.
As a church go-er, I find myself faced with two conflicting messages. The first says, die to self. We do this by giving up our needs, desires, wants, personality traits, and ideas and conforming to cultural norm of Christianity. Individuality and self-care are ranked beneath meeting others’ needs and a long list of behavioral expectations. The second says, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It challenges us to fully embrace our quirks and personalities as evidence of the Divine Creator. Yes, we all have rough edges to smooth, and issues to redirect, but we were designed to be who we uniquely are.
The first message has always been the loudest in my life. The second is newer and scarier. It leaves room for growth and error, and is definitely not one-size-fits-all. By granting love and acceptance, it shifts responsibility for my life from a religious institution to my own imperfect shoulders. While I do not disagree with the concept of dying to self, I’m so tired of only believing there is nothing good in me.
Ironically, the more self-aware I become, the more balanced my view of self is. Yes, there’s dross worthy of the trash heap, but there’s some amazing material, as well. My personality and desires, the things I love, the ways I relate and relax, these divinely inspired pieces aren’t inherent flaws. I am, all at once, random splices of DNA, a construct of my environment, and an unquenchable, creative being, utterly unique in the entire universe. I exist as I am for a purpose.
Embracing this narrative hasn’t been an easy journey. I lose sight of the revelation often, caught up in the cycle of perfection and approval again. It’s true that old habits die hard, but they do die.
Which brings me back to being at odds with Sundays. When life presents us with difficult circumstances, sometimes we can just pack up and walk on. If we can’t escape, we turn to coping mechanisms to diffuse emotionally charged experiences. Whether these coping skills are healthy or unhealthy depends on tools and self-awareness. Personally, I have my share of unhealthy habits which have done me no favors.
Instead, as part of my 100-day writing project, I’m starting a new thing: Something fun Sundays. I don’t know about you, but left on its own, my mind tends to spiral downward. But if I retrain it to watch for something fun, and share these things with you, I get quadruple the enjoyment. I get to anticipate, experience, remember and share. I can’t escape an emotionally entangled situation, but I can, perhaps, reframe it by surrounding with things I enjoy. If Sunday can’t be my favorite day of the week, it can at least be one I look forward to and savor.
What strategies do you use to cope with emotionally charged situations?