Self Care Made Simple. Start with This 1 Thing.

By Steve Austin | Mental Health

Feb 27

Self care starts by starting this one simple thing.

Feeling Exhausted? I get it.

Four years ago, I was a youth pastor, sign language interpreter, wedding photographer, radio host, husband, and father. In that order. My weeks were full of activity: long days and long nights were the norm. I worked in a school full-time, had after-school activities with the student I interpreted for, had a radio show Tuesday and Friday nights, church activities Wednesday night and all day Sunday, and my Saturdays were consumed with photo shoots or youth group activities…or both. People wondered how I could keep so many plates spinning, and in my religious fervor, I judged their lack of busyness. The only thing worse than a Democrat, in my humble opinion, was a lazy church person.

My wife begged for attention, my friends constantly complained that I was missing in action, and my anxiety was through the roof. But what could I possibly do about it, other than pop a little white pill and hope nobody found out. I had bought into the lie that it was my job to save the whole world. If not me, then who? Souls were at stake! Lives were hanging in the balance and who could possibly sleep when the blood of someone’s eternal damnation would be on my hands?

As a teen, we had the coolest youth room around. The back wall was painted with a city scene and above the skyscrapers was the phrase, “Win the Lost, No Matter the Cost”. I’d been raised to believe there was no greater joy and no more heavy a burden than preaching the gospel at every opportunity.

But somewhere along the way, I missed the part about my greatest calling being loving my neighbor and myself. In my late twenties, I failed to see the great responsibility in cultivating relationship with my wife and my children. I missed the part about resting. Every night, my wife would lay next to me, longing for intimacy, for deep conversation, for friendship with the one who had promised to cherish and respect her, but I was lost in connection on my iPhone, a million miles away, planning the next Great Awakening.

I figured she must be so proud. Look at all I was doing for the Lord! Yet, I in having no personal boundaries, I allowed a wall to be built, taller than anything Donald Trump could ever dream. And the people I was keeping out were the ones who loved me the most. I didn’t know it was okay, and even appropriate, to tell others, “no”.

Self Care Starts at Home

These days, I shoot photography once a month or so, and I only work 29 hours a week. I do have a podcast and I’m leading worship at a new church, but the difference is that I’m only doing things that feed my soul. And I’m not doing any of it to the detriment of my family.

The biggest difference is internal: if all of those external things were taken away, I would still be a whole person. I have what matters within the walls of my own home, and nothing can take that from me.

I would be lying if I said I never feel the tug of the American male, the breadwinner, to do more, because the lie that busyness equals success was deeply ingrained. But all my busyness eventually came with a price.

Now, I start and end each day the very same way–at the kitchen table, with my wife and kids. We are more connected as a family than ever before, because I learned the hard way that I am not the Savior of the damn world. We may not have as much money in the bank as I would like, but that’s not what matters to me any more. The other day, my wife pulled me close, grabbed my chin, looked into my eyes, and exhaled, “I’m happy. I need you to know that. There’s nothing else in this world I want, but you.”

In stopping my ridiculous search for fulfillment in the rules and regulations of religion, I have found my greatest calling. My house has become a sanctuary for my often-weary soul. We break bread at the altar of our own kitchen table. Morning and evening, we laugh and sometimes cry, but we do it together. We sometimes get our butts kicked, but we do it together. And often, we celebrate small victories, together.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I’m in religious recovery now, but I’m still seeking out genuine faith. #7DaySelfCare #Mondayblog #religiousrecovery” quote=”I’m in religious recovery now, but I’m still seeking out genuine faith. ” theme=”style3″]

I now realize I was just as “lost” as every other freckle-faced teenager I was witnessing to on countless Friday nights at the mall. Wandering, searching for the approval of my local church instead of resting securely in the fact that I belong to a God who loves me immensely, totally, without question, for no other reason than Love is the very essence of his character.

In learning to say “no” to busyness and bullshit, I have learned how short life truly is, and just how precious my family is. I am learning that I am not what I do, but my worth is found in who I am. My worth is found in the legacy my wife and I are creating together, as equals, for our children.

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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • paulfg says:

    Wow!! This post us like looking into a “speaking mirror”!! Thank you.

  • I want to read your post and get to the message or theme, but I can’t get behind the line “The only thing worse than a Democrat…” It has stopped me in my tracks. I’ve been enjoying your site and insights for awhile now. I’m not a Christian (though I definitely appreciate Christ’s message), but I follow you because I have enjoyed your un-dogmatic approach to faith, coupled with your journey through recovery. But today my brain has just halted, as I’m so tired of the messages of division between people because of their political parties. I am pretty sure you didn’t intend to make a line in the sand between you and I, but you did. And you made me think, once again, about the state of this world and the ability to separate and divide with simple words and sweeping generalizations. So thanks for making me think. All the best.

    • Steve Austin says:

      Hello, friend. And thanks for reading. Thanks for responding with such honesty, too. But I have to tell you: you missed the point. I was saying that this is how I USED to be. I USED to (past tense) think there wasn’t much worse than a Democrat. Today I AM a Democrat. But that’s not the point of the article, at all.
      I hate to see you leave. But I understand if that’s what you feel you must do.

      Either way, peace to you and thanks again.

      • Thanks for clarifying your intention. I could have been clearer here, too – I was writing from an emotional moment and I didn’t want to take a moment and walk away – I actually wanted to sit with the feeling and pursue it (part of my own self-care lately) by writing a comment.
        And, I know it wasn’t the point of the article. It just reminded me that choosing the right words sure does make a huge difference when trying to get our points across. 🙂

        To be more clear: I wasn’t offended and I won’t leave! It just made me think. I’m a writer, too, so it made me think about the power of words and how easily they can disconnect us from one another. In a breath I went from feeling open & responsive to feeling targeted and closed — very much a place of shame & oppression. But I didn’t stay there. Well, obviously, because I’m back and reading once again. 🙂

        Grace IS messy!

      • Steve Austin says:

        <3 Love and Light to you, friend. Thanks for hanging around!

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