A Woman's Voice

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ MY OXYGEN MASK ~ February 10, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Posted in THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY by doloresayotte on February 10, 2011
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 Not too long ago, I was listening to a talk show on the radio.  I had turned on the radio expecting to hear music and instead there was a discussion going on about the joy found in being a Christian. My ears perked up and I couldn’t help but listen more carefully as the guest speaker described what he thought it was like to be a Christian.  He went on to say that God is supposed to come first in our lives (which I fully agree with), family and friends are supposed to come second and then we as individuals are supposed to come third.  He said that we have been put on this earth to serve others.

Based on my religious education I know that some people may believe this to be true but I also know that it is a hard ideal to live up to.  I want to be realistic about myself as a human being.  I know that with all my human weaknesses and frailties, I am not always able to put others before myself and my own needs each and every time.  I have come to realize that this teaching is not always meant to be so cut and dry and by putting myself last, I may not be obeying what God has in store for me as one of His followers.

I remember working with a gentleman who told me a story as he watched me trying to adhere to the rule of serving others. I wasn’t even aware that he was observing me in this way. One day while discussing business in his office, he reminded me of the oxygen masks on airplanes and how to properly use them.  He was a fellow Christian and he felt the need to reinforce the fact that I was supposed to put on my own oxygen mask first before I rushed around to help others.  I still find it interesting to this day that he chose to share this bit of advice with me.  Whatever he was observing about my behavior at work, he obviously felt the need to step in and give me a little fatherly advice.  I must admit that it was good advice.

I learned that it is perfectly okay to first take care of  my own needs in certain instances in order to better see to others and their needs.  Not everything said or read is so black and white. This gentleman took the time to educate me because he felt it was necessary to do so. For whatever reason, he thought I was risking my own health.  He stepped outside of his comfort zone to explain this concept to me.  I thanked him for steering me in the right direction.  By using this analogy, I learned to put on my own oxygen mask in life in order to make sure I was there for the long haul so I could better serve others according to God’s Plan and not mine.

At times, it is not only appropriate but very necessary to put our needs first so that we can actually serve God in the way that we were meant to serve. This man served me that day and I have learned to serve others in much the same way.   If I don’t have on my oxygen mask, I’m not going to last very long and I won’t be of any use at all.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.” (John Ruskin) 


11 Responses to 'THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ MY OXYGEN MASK ~ February 10, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte'

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  1. Kim said,

    Wow beautifully put. And what great timing for me. As I have been in bed foe several weeks now, I realized that I am not superwoman and guess what the world will function right along without me.
    PTO’s and Boosterclubs keep chugging along.
    My kids will do what they need to do when that is the only option.
    Thanks for this enlighting persprective and a good topic for my blog.
    Many Blessings

    • Kim…thanks so much for your comments. I can see that you can really relate to this post. I’m glad that the gentle advice of my fellow co-worker was also there for you. I’m so grateful that I heeded his advice because I was running on empty and it helped me get back on track.

  2. I agree with you.

    • Andrea…I kind of thought you might. My fellow co-worker gave me very good advice.
      I’m sure it applies to a lot of tired, stressed-out moms and dads too.

  3. desiray said,

    Putting others before ourselves is a hard task for us but it’s not impossible! Remember Paul said I can do all things with Christ for nothing is impossible for Him. I believe that there are moments in our lives that we do put someone before us for example. I know when I prepare dinner, I always serve my husband plate first then I fix my plate and we both sit at the table and bless the food. So in a way yes we do put others before us at times. We probably do it more then we know…Great post sis.

    • Desiray…thanks for your comments. Yes, putting others before ourselves is definitely a hard task but as you said not impossible. You are right, so many of us do it naturally that we don’t even realize we are just like the examples you mentioned with serving our husbands and our children before ourselves. Blessings to you and yours and thanks for your inspiration.

  4. Peter Black said,

    Great post, Dolores.
    I can identify with you in this area.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and the wisdom of your caring fellow-worker.

    • Thanks so much Peter. Your comment has special meaning to me considering your ministerial background and your devotion to God. I know you have served others most of your life and have a full appreciation for the wisdom of my co-worker’s advice. Blessings to you, May and your family.

  5. desiray said,

    I got the message you left on the podcast thank you so much for commenting.

  6. susanearl said,

    Hi Dolores,
    Excellent advice to remember. I agree with you that it is hard to put ourselves first, and more often than not we put our own needs on the back burner while we try to help others. Yet, as you said, we do need to take care of ourselves as well, so we will be here to serve when and where God leads us. I love the quote you used. It is the perfect compliment to your post. 🙂

    • Thanks Susan! At times, it is very difficult to put ourselves first because it makes us feel selfish and we much prefer to be selfless in our service to God. I learned that it’s “ok” to take better care of myself so that I can be of even greater service in the future. It took some soul searching for me to figure out that I didn’t always have to be the one serving. In the end it’s been better for us all because it gave others around me the opportunity to learn how to serve God too.

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