There is a difference between self-comfort and self-care. This distinction has been buzzing around my brain for a few weeks now, after I read it in an article about creating good writing habits. It might seem slight, but if you love words like I do, the distinction is striking.
What do you do to comfort yourself? Drink a glass of wine? A Netflix binge? Play a few (hundred) rounds of Candy Crush on your iPhone? …Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
And to comfort others? We bring over sugary treats or tell them what we think they need to hear or anything else we can think of to take away the pain. Because that is what comfort is all about…soothing pain, releasing tension, making the path easier.
What do you to care for yourself? Eat a good breakfast. Read a book that challenges your mind or expands your worldview. Drink lots of water. Play outside.
And to care for others? Make time for them. Sit together in the midst of pain. Make and freeze casseroles that they can cook when they feel like eating. Tell the truth. Keep showing up, especially when we don’t have all the answers.
Care is about nourishing your soul and creating space in your life for thriving. There is a time and place for comfort, no doubt. But true care for one another and for ourselves gets us much farther.
Let me give you an example. I watched the images of the protests in Charlottesville ad nauseam. I felt heartsick and ashamed. Then I got on social media and read as many articles as I could find about the protests. I woke up on Monday morning with an anxious pit in my stomach. Under the guise of staying engaged and paying attention, this is self-comfort. Tricking myself into thinking I care about those standing up against the violent alt-right protesters without actually doing anything.
The reality is I do care, but I also feel embarrassed and uncertain and paralyzed even. But I prayed anyway. I sent an email to my senator anyway. I called a friend anyway. Even if I don’t know what to say and I know I can’t fix the problem, I choose to keep showing up.
In ancient times, the Celts were called keltoi by the Greeks. Keltoi means “hidden people.” The Celts got this name because they had no written language, effectively “hiding” their identity from other cultures. In many ways, Celtic Christianity is still hidden. We don’t have our own church. And while there are a few high profile writers, most of us remain largely under the radar. Let’s be clear, though, being hidden is not the same as being silent. We choose to follow this Celtic stream of Christianity because of its depth and its meaning and the purpose we find in it. We believe there is value in it for us and for others.
My prayer for us today is this:
May your feet be firmly rooted on the ground and your head high into the clouds.
May your feet keep walking toward justice and your head keep dreaming about the beautiful, messy possibilities within the Kingdom of God.
May you keep your phone close enough to call your congressmen and women when needed and may it also be far enough away for you to get lost in God’s creation once in a while.
May your heart remain open to see the image of God in everyone, especially yourself.
And, may you remember that the world needs us- thoughtful, justice-seeking, imperfect Celtic
dreamers- now more than ever.
Keep showing up.
Kelsey is a Celtic Way contributor. Read more about her here.