Before you comment about how selfish that sounds or worse- you just stop reading, please let me explain.
I was reminded of something that I heard on a recent flight to South Carolina while attending a conference there. The flight attendant went through all of the "in the event of" procedures and since it’s the same thing on every flight, you probably know the drill.
"In the event of…please put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others." In other words, help yourself first.
Now, I know that it seems so much more noble to immediately respond to the needs of others, helping them, saving them and sacrificing your own needs but how helpful will you be if you’re deprived of the very thing that gives you life- your breath. It makes sense then to put your own mask on first, to help save yourself, so that you can then begin to help save others.
"We breathe to capture oxygen, which helps us convert food into energy in our cells, and to get rid of carbon dioxide – the waste gas which is formed as this happens. Our lungs pump these gases in and out of our bodies, and help us dissolve them in and out of our blood."
– Ask Glenn, sciencemuseum.org
"We need oxygen because the main use of oxygen in humans and aerobic organisms is to permit the body to build energy. Energy is required as a host of processes in the body like movement, growth, repair…." - ask.com
We all have need for the bad to be removed and require assistance in moving forward, for healing and growth.
Before we can be really effective in helping others, we need to first help ourselves. We all have had some brokenness in our lives, whether from our past or present situations and sometimes the hurt that remains is so suffocating, that it makes it almost impossible to breath and to truly live. We think the noble thing to do is to help others, to save them when actually we need to be saved first!
For several years I’ve been involved in women’s ministry, holding bible studies in my home, talking with women one on one, leading small groups in our church and helping with big events. A few months ago I felt strongly that I needed to step away from those things. I felt that God was calling me to be still and spend time breathing in His presence. It was difficult to let go. It seemed selfish to me and maybe even to others, but nonetheless, God thought it necessary for me to help myself (by seeking Him) before assisting others.
I was broken and wounded masking the pain, the disappointments of my life and pretending that I was fine, all the while trying to help others be healed of their own hurts, their own wounds. While it was completely possible for me to be helpful to others,
if I wanted to truly live,
to be healed and restored,
I needed to breathe in deeply the very breath of the living God.
Stepping away from some things, even good and helpful things, allowed God to breathe new life into me, to get rid of the bad and to move me forward, helping me to grow, repairing all that was broken.
I no longer have a bandaged wounded heart but a new heart, and a new life.
I’ve helped myself by seeking God’s healing presence and now I’m ready to help others breathe Him in deeply and live the life that Jesus died to give them.
If you’re heart is to help others but you haven’t helped yourself first,
And let God breathe new life in you.