BY REV. DORAL PULLEY
It is amazing how we imagine things in our minds when we read the scriptures. Often the pictures that we paint our heads are quite different from the actual places that we read about in the Bible. All the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) record a verse or two about Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. After she the fever left her, she rose and met their hospitality needs.
No matter how many times I read the text, I thought it was Peter’s mother-in-law’s house. Actually, it was Peter’s house and his mother-in-law was living with him, his wife and his family. I imagined that the house was a big three-story house like Big Mama’s house on Soul Food. In reality, the house was small and underground. Today, Peter’s house would be more like the size of a basement apartment.
Despite the dimensions of the house being different than what I envisioned, the power and presence of God in the space was overwhelming. People from all over the world prayed in their native tongue in the church that was built around the “house.” They believed that just as Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law in that space that they were able to be free from sickness, pain, disease, discomfort and dysfunction if they made it to that place.
The story of Peter’s mother-in-law’s healing reminds us that before we can minister to the needs of others, first our own needs must be addressed. We can do the work of ministry in a more effective, efficient and excellent manner when we are functioning at our optimum. How often are we giving people less than what they deserve because we don’t take the time to heal ourselves.
Self-care is so important. It is not a selfish act, but it is in fact selfless. We can only take care of others to the degree that we take care of ourselves. Jesus taught his disciples to love their neighbors as themselves. If we don’t love ourselves, how can we love others (Matthew 22:34-40, Ephesians 5:22-33)?
Rev. Doral Pulley is the senior pastor of Unity Temple of Truth Church, 511 Prescott St. S, St. Petersburg.