Most of us feel pulled in many directions at once.

How to be prepared enough for Conference annual meetings and General Council? How to do what is expected of us in our jobs, whether within the church or outside it? How to respond to the news of snipers firing at protesters and medical personnel in Gaza, and pedestrians being run over on the streets of Toronto? How to juggle the various schedules in a household and meet the needs of different generations of family members? How to find time to clean the house and make dinner? How to carve out time to accompany sponsored refugees or volunteer in the community? How to carve out time for ourselves?

So often, in our long “to-do lists”, that final question comes last, or is left out altogether.

Yet as people of faith, we follow one who has told us to, “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

So we are to love our neighbours, and it is implicit in this teaching that we must love ourselves too. I don’t think that is about being selfish and self-centred. I think it is about maintaining a balance of mind, body, and spirit. It is about maintaining a balance in our lives to enable us to be healthy enough to serve others and to serve God.

When the focus is all on the mind, on the things we can analyze, plan, figure out, and solve, our lives are not complete.

We need to give our bodies healthy food and exercise of some kind, (ideally of a kind that we enjoy!), but if we focus only on our physical beings, that is not enough either.

Somehow, the mental and physical elements of our lives gain meaning as we develop our spiritual lives. Spiritual practices can take many forms. We can take part in Sunday worship. We can read scripture alone or with others. We can look for the Holy Spirit in each person we meet. We can try to offer the light of Christ to each person we meet. We can find comfort in God’s promise to Moses, “I will be with you.” We can take to heart the simple reminder in a beloved hymn, “Take it to the Lord in Prayer.” We can share a meal at a table with people we love. You can add to this list for yourself.

Loving our neighbours, and loving ourselves, involves our actions, but also our hearts and our souls.

God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

—Nora Sanders is General Secretary of The United Church of Canada. This message was originally sent to subscribers to the General Secretary's email message, "Note from Nora." Subscribe here.