Every time you fly there is the safety portion before you can get on the way with your journey. They tell you to keep an eye out for your nearest exit, they tell you how to brace for impact and what instructions to look out for and follow, they tell you that if oxygen is needed it’s important you tend to yourself before others. That final instruction is one that has been playing on my mind.
It’s fair to say worldwide we have navigated unexpected and trying times over the past three years. We have had the usual hardships to contend with on top of that. All of our stories are different. All of our loads unique. All of our ways of coping individual, if indeed helpful or not.
Words that have been thrown around from the government, to businesses, workplaces and within family and friend conversations has been the need for self care, kindness towards one another and an appreciation for mental and physical well being. Good in theory, not so easy in reality.
There is a stigma to teetering on burn out, as if you are weak. There is a stigma to seeking a counsellor, as if you’ve failed to find your own way. There is a stigma in admitting the struggles that are too heavy to carry and your need for help. There is a stigma in a highly connected world saying you feel alone and seeking a safe place to process.
For all the progress this world has made there are also many ways it has gone backwards and inwards over the years. So when I found myself teetering on burnout, feeling those I would reach out to had enough of their own to contend with I discovered a lot about myself and the shoulders I had placed around me. Some of it encouraging, others very discouraging.
The words of the safety briefing came to mind. I needed to reach for the oxygen so to speak. So I’ve done just that, and declared this a year for self care. A year where I can heal from the hurts and be of better help to others. A year where I can re-engage my voice and purpose. A year where I get to choose those surrounding me and what really matters to me.
I have braved the hard conversation with my wonderful man and find my safe place to be. He is the love of my life, he is my best friend, he is my greatest truth giver and change permitter.
I have reached out to an amazingly gifted counsellor from my teens and she’s again willing to unpack the layers of what is. Only three sessions in and I am feeling stronger, more whole and expectant.
I have been doing my homework after each session and am seeing my boundaries become clearer, my needs be refined, my future having brightness to it once again.
I have found that my weary spirit again is pulsing as my faithful God whispers through His Word, through the pastors sermons, through worship music and through His creation surrounding me.
I know the year will have a mix of beauty and hardship, I know there will be the unexpected and the expected, I know this year will establish me well for whatever season God is positioning for me next. But as I sit and mull over all of this I wonder if you are weary, if you are feeling defeated, if you are feeling alone, if you are feeling squashed, if all this feels like failure and if you are needing to reach for the oxygen mask? May I be the voice that reminds you that you are worth the courage it takes to reach for the mask, the work that is involved in placing it over your face and adjusting the ties.
God is happy to meet us where we are! He is not bothered by stigma. He is not confined by the expected. He is not disappointed in the “backwards steps” because what may seem to be a stumbling block in our view may just be the stepping stone in His.