Every summer for the past eight summers, I have gone to Pilot Lake Christian Camp with about 60 other people from my church. There’s something so emotional about being up there. Imagine being away from phones, iPods, and e-mails for four days. You’re away from home, from family, from familiarity. You’re told that this camp is amazing and that it changes lives. Despite all the uncertainty and anxiety leading up to camp, you find that it really proves to be something memorable. People find themselves there, they find God up there when it can be hard to search for Him with all the distractions of everyday life.
This year was especially emotional for me, and our guest speaker could see that. He is a native Spanish speaker, and he knows that I’ve picked up a lot of Spanish as well, so he whispered something to me when he hugged me goodbye: cuídate. In english, we would say “take care” or “be careful”, depending on the context. This time, it felt different from either of those things. It felt like he was saying “take care”, but on a deeper level, like “take care of yourself”. Those may sound like the same thing, but I don’t think they are. The first feels like a farewell and a hope for a good future, something he may have said to someone he won’t see anytime soon. The second conveys a message that he wants me to actively use what I’ve been given in life and create positive change within myself. That’s something I would say to someone I plan to come back to, as though I expect improvement by the time I see them next. I don’t think that’s something I’ve ever been told.
I don’t think I’ve ever put that into practice, either. How does one take care of themselves? Other than the typical taking care of your body through hygiene and a balanced diet, do we really care for ourselves? Think of how our moms and dads treated us (or how they should’ve treated us, in some cases) when we were sick. It was more than just bringing medicine and food to our beds. It was reading us stories and caressing our heads until we fell asleep. It was checking on us every five minutes and calling the doctor a few too many times, just to be sure. It was praying for us and thinking of us and loving us above the necessary level of love. That is what it means to me to take care of someone.
So the same things apply when taking care of ourselves. You should be actively interested in your own well-being, and take steps to make certain that you’re okay. It’s not selfish to value yourself or consider your own needs.
I read something online that totally broke my heart because of how many people I know that can relate to this. The author stated that the one thing they never learned in school was how to love themselves. It made me sad to think that some people never got the memo about self-worth. It’s not arrogant or wrong to believe that there is good in you. You’re not being self-centered when you take care of yourself, you’re being proactive and mature. Our parents can’t take care of us forever, so we need to learn to do it ourselves.
When he said, “cuídate”, I remembered a verse in the Bible that says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s in Psalms, which is a very poetic part of scripture. Fearfully means causing people to be in fear or in awe of, so we were made with to be an awesome and wonderful people. Even for those that aren’t as religious as I am, that should be comforting. You’re awesome and wonderful. So take care of yourself. Cuídate.