View this post on Instagram
I was a preacher’s kid growing up.
And from early on, I learned to take on everyone else’s problems.
My dad traveled the world as a preacher, and we moved multiple times around Australia to start churches and “spread the gospel.” As a result, I lived in over 20 houses and went to different schools as we moved for the church’s mission. It wasn’t the most stable upbringing—leaving friends behind and never feeling like I fit in anywhere.
From a young age, I was surrounded by older people from all walks of life, with many difficulties in their own lives, including people trying to recover from substance abuse. So many people and families had painful stories, and the church gave them a sense of belonging—a change, a new start, an escape.
I witnessed the adults sacrificing their time and energy to help others, to save people’s souls from the fiery pits of hell. Yep, that’s what we believed (I don’t anymore.)
I saw people come and go from church, who would take from others, and who would come back when they needed more. I saw the heavy burden of people within the church who gave and gave and gave. They truly believed this was what they had to do as Christians—many people I know still believe this.
And I certainly did until I questioned it all.
Growing up in that kind of environment should have been peaceful, joyful, and life-giving—is not the message of Christ meant to lighten the load?
Unfortunately, I always felt anxious, sick, and constantly afraid. I was always worried about being perfect and helping others. Finally, when I entered my early 20s, I became chronically unwell from stress. I was giving myself to others at the expense of my time, energy, and needs.
I believed I was supposed to give, give, and give. To be there for others and save people from falling. So I tried to help anyone and everyone. I would go above and beyond trying to rescue struggling people. My entire heart would bleed for others—and never myself.
When I finally decided to call it quits on this way of living, I was filled with guilt for years. But I also discovered an oasis—a treasure that had been with me my whole life—my soul. And the beauty that is our inner being.
I discovered that my soul had been whispering to me for so long and letting me know that no, I didn’t have to live this way—and I wouldn’t be doomed to the pits of hell if I took care of my needs first.
I was 12 years old, and I remember sitting in an audience of hundreds of people listening to a preacher shout an aggressive message from the pulpit. It was always a message of do this, do that, give more, sacrifice yourselves. I mean, where did God fit in with all of this?
I heard this gentle voice say, “This is not god. God is a god of love.”
At the time, I didn’t know what that meant. I felt guilt for even feeling this way. Who was I to question the authority figures and teachings? I would later learn that this was my intuition, and it was guiding me and letting me know another way exists.
As I explored the depths of this unknown, I found something I had not known before—peace and joy and a sense of tranquility.
Over time, I found a deeper understanding of myself, life, and the beauty within this world and others. As I practiced tuning in, I felt grounded, whole, and over time, I placed my own needs first and helped myself.
To love does not mean sacrificing ourselves at the cost of our well-being.
It is not fear mongering and worry.
The energy of love requires us to take care of ourselves.
The more I got to know this voice and focus on myself, the guilt of helping others diminished. I started to learn the difference between supporting people or carrying their burdens—one is grounded, the other is draining.
It has been about finding a healthy balance between being a friend and ally but not losing myself or thinking I can save people.
It has also shown me that we all have a choice—a choice to do what is healthy for ourselves, and we all have the ability to listen to that deeper part of ourselves that will guide us to greener pastures.
We have a compass within that shows us our true north.
We are not at the mercy of preachers—or the expectations of others.
We all have our own path in life, and while we need to support and uplift one another at times, we must also take responsibility for who we are, who we want to be, and how we want to show up in the world.
We have a choice to listen to our inner being against the noise of others, society, trends, and religious constructs.
We have a choice to hone into a pool of limitless love within, and cherish it, cultivate it, and let it lead us to all things wholesome.
And some of us are walking through life thinking we don’t have a choice. And that our life duty is to sacrifice ourselves for others at the cost of our soul. Some of us may lean on others a little too much too.
This keeps us stuck in situations and in connections with people where our energy is drained—where our life force seeps out.
And our soul cries.
It cries for us.
Our soul will never push us, control us, or force us into balance—although it does know the best way for us.
But our soul will cry because it grieves for us to return home. Ever so patiently, it will await our return.
It lets us know that we can let others be so they too can find their inner voice.
My soul, our soul, is always there. And it’s also whispering to those we feel we need to help, to those we worry about—it’s there for them too.
If we continue to give, give, and give—no one wins.
We don’t; they don’t.
Maybe temporarily, we’ll feel good about ourselves, and they’ll look like they are growing, but sooner or later, when the fuel runs dry and they have nothing more to take—both remain empty.
As humans, we need to protect our well-being, treasure our soul, and guard it. I don’t mean to close ourselves off—but guard it in a way that allows us to flow.
As the old proverb says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I may not go to church anymore, but when we tune into the spirit, we can see the power behind those words. It is our own spirit that we are responsible for—and to be of service is to shine bright, be true to ourselves, to reflect the goodness of life.
And never feel guilty for honouring our soul.
Do you feel guilty or selfish for putting yourself first—or saying no? Why/why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.