Do you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)Last fall, I started suffering from panic attacks. It was a new occurrence for me and not one I was very found of, to put it nicely. Waking up in the middle of night, shaking uncontrollably is a devastating feeling. I began feeling faint and dizzy, with tingling feelings rushing up my arms during the middle of the day. These awful feelings made it difficult to focus on caring for my children. I was desperate to get rid of the panic attacks. I began looking for answers and cures. Deep breaths, reaching out to friends, and exercising were all suggestions given by friends, family, and my doctors. I began seeing a Foundational Medicine doctor who guided me through a variety of lab tests and set me on a course of treatment with vitamin supplements and diet changes. At first I was grateful for the medical guidance, but as my already restricted diet intensified, I struggled. The doctor had warned me that certain foods were damaging to my body and told me it was time to remove them completely. It was at that moment that I realized there was a difference in my outlook toward change. When I choose change, I enjoy it, but when it’s forced on me by another, I want to reject it. Over the years, I’ve taken things out of my diet for a variety of reasons, but it was always my choice. Just days before my appointment, I had been reading an article about people mourning the loss of certain foods upon discovering food sensitivities. I felt bad for their struggle but knowing personally what a relief I had felt, once I removed pain-causing foods, I wondered why they fought the doctor’s recommendations. Days later, I could completely relate to the article and walked around the grocery store imitating Grumpy the Dwarf. The only difference in my diet choices, just days before, were that I could pick and choose which foods I wanted to take out and whether I was willing to deal with the consequences of eating ones I shouldn’t. Now I had a doctor to hold me accountable. The Lord is always calling us to Himself. He’s always calling us to change. He knows what is best for our souls, yet we struggle so much to listen and follow Him. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, yet I often wonder why, as women, we allow ourselves to neglect the care of our temples. Money usually comes into play when we begin taking care of our health. My new doctor is not covered by my insurance, so I cringed at the end of my first visit as I discussed finances. Then I started to think, if this doctor’s visit had been for any of my children or my husband, I never would have considered the cost. Why was I having a hard time spending the money on myself? Did I feel like I wasn’t worthy to spend that much of our family's money on myself? Did I feel like I should be able to “fix” this on my own? What if spending all this money didn’t produce the results I was looking for? I am pleased to say, that after 20 days, I am experiencing a health I haven’t felt in years. My head is clear; I can think straight. I’ve heard many women speak of brain fog, and I wonder if the cloudiness I experienced is relatable. If anything, I’ve learned one thing: My struggle to care for myself hangs under a cloud of worry about crossing into selfish behavior. If I want to work out in the morning, I find myself worrying that I really should be present to my children and helping them to prep for their days. I quickly realize that my children are older and I think I can disappear for 15 or 20 minutes for a quick workout. I’m praying through this journey that I can show my children the need for self-care. I pray that I’m teaching them to be independent and prepare for their own day, while teaching myself that it is OK for me to take the time to take care of my own health as well. Honestly, I think I’ve decided to listen to the lie that moms do not have time for self-care. I’m not talking about 45-minute baths while our husbands battle screaming kids at bedtime. I’m talking about taking time for personal prayer time during the day. I’m talking about getting in a bit of exercise, however that can happen in our homes and stages of lives. I’m talking about spending the extra few dollars to buy ourselves a half an avocado for breakfast because our bodies need the good fat. (I’m from California; we’re talking about a dollar for an avocado.) My soul needs time with the Lord, and my body needs fruits, vegetables, and exercise. My brain functions better and I feel better when I feel healthy. If my goal is to be the best mother to my children, how can I expect to succeed if I miss prayer time and skip taking care of myself? Please don’t sigh and assume my kids are any different than yours and that you could never find the time. Just start with two minutes. We all know that we can find two minutes to pray. Once two minutes has become a routine, then increase to the time to five minutes, then to eight and ten. See where I’m going with this? Buy some fruit at the store -- you know, the fruit that you make sure your kids eat at lunch for their growing bodies, but buy it for you. Make sure you’re getting an apple a day too. I’m begging each of you moms out there (and dads too, my husband needs this just as much as I do) to remember that our God made us temples. A temple is a sacred space that is used to house God. Our bodies are His creation and represent His beautiful design. If Audi were promoting their new model, would they allow the showroom car to get in accident and then display the broken version at the car show? Let us show off our temples! Let us give our bodies and souls a nice detailing. Our bodies won’t work right unless we care for them properly.
What do you need to start including in your day? Do you need prayer time, exercise, or some vegetables?
Copyright 2019 Courtney Vallejo
About the Author
Courtney Vallejo is a convert to the Catholic faith. She and her husband are homeschooling parents of three adopted children. She loves speaking at women's groups and Catholic conferences! Courtney is a Barton tutor for Dyslexic children. She writes for her own blog, CourtneyVallejo.com. She is also the co-founder of AMomRevolution.com and has a master's degree in Film Production.