Every time I fly, I’m struck by the stewardess’ instructions in the event of an emergency to put on my own air mask first before helping anyone else, including my children. I always at first feel selfish even considering it — like it’s an instruction from selfish people to other selfish people to take care of themselves first. But, of course, it only takes a brief moment of logical thought for the truth to hit me – I won’t be in any condition to help my children if I pass out myself. It’s plain, simple logic.
I’m learning that this is valuable advice spiritually too. Put on your own air mask first! If you are a compassionate, caring woman, you must understand that your love and service to others will cause you to suffocate personally if you don’t spiritually put on your air mask first. People have a God-sized need in their heart, and we often want to fill it. In our children, with our spouse, with our friends, with our family. You can’t provide their oxygen, but you can help them with an air mask linked to the source Who can. And you can’t provide them with the source until you’ve first provided for yourself.
For me, this simply means feeding myself first spiritually. I am by no means the standard by which to judge your own daily devotions. Believe me when I say I am the least of these in terms of consistent follow through with devotional plans or books. It took me three years to read my one year Bible. However, at some point, I figured out what worked for me, at least in this season with small children. I bought a cheap New Testament with Psalms in a version I’d never read before. I’ve loved, loved, loved reading the gospels with their slightly different wording. It’s awakened me to things in Scripture that had become stale and common place in my head. I’m marking it up and making notes as I interact with it. It sits by my chair where I have my coffee in the morning and invites me in the morning to feast on it. If only I was consistent daily to read it! Nevertheless, I’m reading more consistently than I have in a long time. I let the boys get their own breakfast of poptarts. Gasp! I know, right?! Poptarts?! But I realized at some point I would never get my own life giving breath of air if I didn’t put that priority up higher than the others over which I feel guilt (like feeding my children healthy, low sugar meals). I try to give them healthy food otherwise, but they get their own poptarts and watch whatever’s on the morning kids TV channel because before anything else, I need the Word!
Of course there are women out there who get up an hour before their kids and have their Bible reading done and a healthy, organic breakfast prepared by the time the kids awake. And I’m not mocking that by mentioning it! But I’m not a morning person and I needed to eat from the Word, so I HAD to figure out what worked for me. And if it means poptarts and cartoons, then so be it. Of all the selfish things a woman, married or single, mom or not, may do during the day (and I do plenty), I’ve learned that stealing away and ignoring others for quiet time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study is not one of them. Put on your own air mask first.
P. S. Morning devotions are not a magic cure or everyone’s personal preference. A totally different application may come to mind for you. This is just how I’m thinking about it personally.