I was on the airplane home a couple of weeks ago when the stewardess came up front to give a safety demonstration. I don’t normally watch those things, preferring the music on my iPod to thinking about the plane I’m on crashing, but that day, I did. For some reason, even way after she was done, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. She told us that if the air pressure changed, we would have to put on these masks. She said to make sure we put ours on before helping other people. I’m pretty sure most people have seen or heard something to that affect.
As a nursing major, it hit me really hard, the idea of helping yourself before you help someone else. The older I get, the stronger the feeling is that I need to protect everyone around me. It’s both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. I have all these people in my life that have absolutely captured my heart; I love them so deeply. The thought of providing myself with life-giving air before helping one of them out feels backwards.
The thing that I’m beginning to understand though, is that sometimes, you need to help yourself before you can help others. As a very wise hero of mine once said, there’s nothing more pathetic than a dried-up Christian trying to overflow with joy. If we are empty, what do we have to give to others?
From Bozeman to Minneapolis to Indianapolis, all the way home, I thought about this concept. We spend so much time trying to give to others, which is essentially a good thing. It’s what we are taught. We revere it, being selfless.
It’s not that I’m a good, selfless person. It’s that every ounce of my being wants everyone around me to be happy so I spend all this time and energy and emotion on making people happy instead of wondering, even for a second, if I’m pleasing God. And then I get so worn out and exhausted until I’m just this hub of myself and I wonder how I got there.
Maybe I should listen to flight attendants more often.Last year at school, I took seventeen credits each semester, worked, went to church, volunteered several times per week, and always took time for friends. Then, after being home for only one day, I left for a crazy adventure-filled summer in Yellowstone. Don’t get me wrong: there’s value in doing things for others, value in participating and trying new things. It’s just that I haven’t taken a Sabbath in three months and I can’t remember what it’s like to “be still, and know that (He) is God.”