You know those words the flight attendants always say, “In case of an emergency, the air bags will automatically fall. Place the air mask over your face FIRST before helping the person next to you.” Now, if you are a parent or someone who has a heart for people, you will find this a difficult task right. In response to those instructions, I find myself thinking, “How can that be a good thing? Place an air mask on myself first and then help others? Is that really the best way? Sounds kind of selfish.”
But if I slow down a minute, visualize myself in said emergency and imagine myself choking or passing out while helping the other person, I realize that we both would die. “Yourself FIRST” is sound advice, even if it is hard to accept by those of us who find it difficult to set boundaries. But placing the air mask on our self first ensures that we will all have the needed air to live and to survive the emergency.
Fast forward to one of my recent days off. I was truly exhausted. I am single, but I have lots of responsibilities. I work. I care for my parents, relate to my siblings, make time for friends, complete daily household chores, and just keep things flowing in my life. And this recent day off, I found myself so tired. I do not know if this tiredness had been building over the last few weeks or if it was just suddenly took hold of me. But I was tired. I really needed a vacation.
But then the feelings of guilt crept. I felt bad for needing a day off. Setting boundaries for my own needs is sometimes difficult. I have to remind myself that even Jesus “withdrew to lonely places,” so he surely understands my needs and my feelings. He was single too, and he found times to be alone, to recapture his energy, and to focus his attention on God. If Jesus took time out to be renewed physically, mentally, and spiritually, then certainly we should too.
Sitting in Starbucks, drinking my Frappucino, I embraced my “time out.” Sure, there were things still undone, but if I don’t take this time for myself, I will be useless to the next person or commitment in my life! And so will you.
Take time out, withdraw to a lonely place, go away from the “crowds” in your life, and be refreshed in God’s presence. Put on your own air mask first!
Diane Buie lives in South Carolina and enjoys reading, writing, hanging with friends, and gardening.