If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you know the emphasis the flight attendants will put on securing your own oxygen mask in the case of an emergency before that of a child or anyone else in your care.
While I completely understand the purpose and intention of that rule, it still baffles me. If I were ever in that kind of situation, I would have to fight hard against the instinct to secure the mask of my child, who is totally and entirely dependent on me, before my own.
That exact scenario has been explained and displayed enough times in my life that, if I were in that exact emergency scenario, I would at least know what I was supposed to do and why.
Daily life, though, the in and outs of our routines and demands and responsibilities, can make things a little less clear. Unfortunately an oxygen mask doesn’t drop down in front of us when we’re drained to the point of exhaustion and on the brink of collapse. We might not even notice the turbulence when it’s become the norm. Even when we know we’re in rough shape, we can struggle to find an easy way out.
As Christians we understand that life is going to be hard:
We understand that we are held to the standard of perfection:
We understand that we need to put the needs of others above ourselves:
Sometimes I read these verses and tell myself that I need to suck it up, buttercup. Heaven is going to be great, but life is tough and you’ve got work to do.
What about our need for oxygen?
The truth is that we do have work to do. Unbelievably important work.
For the same reason we need to secure our own oxygen mask on a flight emergency, we need to take care of ourselves as dearly loved children of God, whose works were prepared in advance for us to do, and who have serious and pressing work to do on this earth.
Our lists are endless, I know.
Rest, though, is essential if we are to do the work set before us.
Jesus even modeled that behavior for us when he rested on a boat amidst a raging sea, sought a quiet place to pray, and tried to escape the eager crowds on a boat to recover.
When you see the work before you, people to encourage, being a good steward of your physical blessings, kingdom work in all its forms, it can be difficult to draw a line and prioritize your own well-being when you seem to have to sacrifice a godlier seeming task to do so.
In a society obsessing over self care, we don’t seek rest and recovery or prioritize our well-being because we are “so worth it”, as our right to “treat ourselves”, or to take care of number one. We acknowledge our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and our lives as sacrifices to a living Christ. We need that oxygen so that we can better serve those around us, and better do the work we are called to do, important life saving work.
While seeking spiritual rest is ultimately important, the benefit of taking good care of our physical bodies and mental health also help us to do our best work for God’s glory.
God loves us immeasurably, made the ultimate sacrifice to save us, and is concerned for our well-being as His dearly loved children as we do His work.
Take care of yourselves, sisters.
There is important work ahead of you and God wants your best self.