If the oxygen masks come down in front of you while traveling on an airplane. What are you suppose to do? Put yours on first and then help the person next to you. This is emphasized at the beginning of every flight. In other words, take care of yourself so you can take care of someone else. If you don’t care for yourself you won’t be able to help anyone. It’s an overused illustration but it’s the perfect illustration because it is true.
Chapter two about shaping influences in the book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, reminded me of the importance of self care as a parent. The chapter prods one to examine their own life and the environment one is creating around their child. It was a reminder to me that I need to be healthy to help raise a healthy child. I cannot respond inappropriately to unexpected stuff and expect my child to respond appropriately when something surprising happens to them.
When I think about self care I use the following three questions to examine my life. Maybe you will find them helpful as well to help you determine if you are appropriately caring for yourself.
1) Am I taking time each day for prayer and meditation?
Christian meditation is not just reflecting and thinking about inner thoughts but opening God’s Word and reflecting upon specific truths from the Bible. Seven minutes a day in God’s Word and prayer will change your life - do you have it routinely? You are going to miss a day and it’s no big deal. There is no one keeping score! Just start back up the next day with taking time to encounter God through His Word and spend time in prayer. Maybe drop the kids off seven minutes early at day care and drive to a parking lot for this time. Maybe you can use one of your breaks during the day at work to read the Bible on your phone and pray.
2) Do I have friends that energize, support, and care for me?
Too many of us are alone in this world. We have people around us but no one really knows us. The first thing God said wasn’t good about creation in the book of Genesis was that people should not be alone. Here in Sioux Falls I have at least six friends that I enjoy being with on a regular basis. These friendships are vital as we can talk about anything and be ourselves with one another. I have found healthy friendships to be irreplaceable in my life.
3) Have I dealt with the junk in my own life?
We all have stuff in our lives that we are not proud of and many times we have habits that are unhealthy. Have I acknowledged those things to God and to another person. We are encouraged in the Bible to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. Opening up about our stuff to others brings the issues out in the light where there can be healing rather than in the darkness where the problem just festers.
I hope these questions are helpful in doing a little self reflection. It may seem selfish to be doing this but in reality it’s all about other people. For we cannot help others until we ourselves are in a healthy place. Maybe the best thing we could do for our kids today is to take care of our own souls so that which we are pouring into them is healthy.