So I did something this week.
I took some time for me.
Ever since my mom had her stroke, I’ve been her full time wingman –err, wingwoman — by her side, helping her out.
And this past week, was our scheduled family vacation, and due to obvious reasons, only myself, and my older brother and his wife went. It was already all paid for, and my dad really encouraged me to go.
So I did.
I went skiing and enjoyed the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
But I ended up having a blast. I am really lucky to have such incredible siblings.
But while I was away, I ended up having one of those conversations that just stick with you.
We were sharing a ride into town with this fascinating woman. She was very eclectic. Flowing gray hair that was elegant, yet slightly wild; thick-rimmed, circular tortoise glasses, and a felt, lime green trench coat that rivaled her hair in “strikingness.”
She was the essence of all things artistic and original.
And I ended up talking to this woman about my blog.
To be honest, I never really know what to say when people ask me what it’s about.
I always come up with something “safe” like, It’s a ‘self love blog,’ or ‘it’s a blog that covers my journey to living an abundant life.’
I dunno, there’s just something about saying “an eating disorder recovery blog” that doesn’t really quite roll off the tongue. You can’t really save the conversation after dropping a bomb like that on a new acquaintance.
But I did say that it had “inspirational content.”
And without skipping a beat, this woman affirms, “That’s so great and needed. Gotta put on your own oxygen mask first, right? Where can you find that?”
Gotta put on your own oxygen mask first…
I found my mind replaying that over and over for the rest of the night.
Your own oxygen mask.
This has been a rather different – and difficult – season on life, here recently, after everything with my mom.
Moving back home –albeit temporarily- as a young adult, it is…well, there are truthfully, a lot of emotions attached to it.
But I kept thinking about that oxygen mask.
That saying has always been a little morbid for my taste….you’re going to give some cheeky analogy about helping yourself by relating it to an airplane in distress about to crash?! Sensitive much?
But I digress.
We can’t help others unless we ourselves are secure, receiving the necessary sustenance.
Living in New York, there are so many sources to find those “sustainabilities” – that oxygen if you will.
I have a great life in NYC with all my friends, and I know they “fill me up.” But then there’s shopping, great food, incredible live music, night life, dance clubs, cultural happenings – there is so much to make your soul come alive. Not to mention my acting career and opportunities to write and express myself creatively.
And to put it nicely, Ohio is…well, not able to match that.
But I’ve just been thrust into this situation where, whether I have my oxygen mask on or not, I have to help my mom get her oxygen mask on first.
And I realized that I am kind of in a waste land when it comes to sources of oxygen for myself here. I don’t have to fully get into it, but coming home is always difficult, with a past full of “emotional misdemeanors” and scathing memories that are lurking around every corner. But regardless of the dearth of O2 sources, here I am, finding myself doing what needs to be done, surviving the chaos, and being strong.
I think in times like this, our oxygen mask is overtaken by Jesus. And He supplies our sustenance even without our knowing.
“Gotta put on your own oxygen mask first…”
I can’t stop thinking about that exchange with that interesting woman in the car. And how, after hearing that my blog offered “inspirational content,” her mind immediately drew the connection between that, and a source of oxygen for her oxygen mask.
And it got me thinking because it revealed something pretty powerful….we are all searching.
We are all looking for that source to sustain us.
Being out in Utah, skiing in the 2 ½ foot fresh powder, surrounded by the magnificent, sweeping views of the mountains, soaring pines and crystal blue skies…that was really renewing for my spirit. I always feel close to the Creator when I am out in nature, but this was a deeper renewal- More than just a superficial “getaway.”
This was a soul renewal. A time of repair. A time of true sustainability.
If I’m being really honest, this is going to be a difficult journey for me. I, for one, tend to disregard my own oxygen mask when these times of need arise. I want to be there, fully, unencumbered.
An oxygen mask is more that just the spiritual component. Jesus is our oxygen, yes, and that is the spiritual aspect of our total wellbeing. There is also the physical, the mental, social – those all need to work together with the spiritual. And in truth, all of those are gifts to us from Jesus for our wellbeing.
And all of those things were “fed” this weekend.
That woman was absolutely right – we cannot help another person to our fullest capacity without putting our own oxygen mask on first.
I need to not neglect my own oxygen mask. Jesus can put it on for me, but I’m the only one who can make myself actually take a breath.
And that full inhalation will sustain me: mind, body and spirit.
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