This week, as I visited our friends Kennan & Alaina for supper one night while in Chicago, I met a friend of theirs (Lisa) from seminary who was working on her thesis for her Masters. It was on a Trinitarian View of Caring.
The next day on my flight home, I was stirred by the flight attendant's reminder to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. I've heard various sermons and messages on this before, but this time I was still thinking about the conversation the night before about care.
I had told Lisa that I've been learning a lot about the trinitarian equation in the Jesus Creed (to borrow a phrase from Scot McKnight): to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I've had a tendency to love God & my neighbors, but neglect myself. I've come to believe that I can't truly love God & neighbor unless I'm loving myself. I talked with Lisa about how I felt that if we don't have self-care, we can't truly care for others (and we'll eventually get burned out). I don't think we can even forgive others or be forgiven by God until we're able to forgive ourselves as well.
I know there are plenty of narcissistic people who love themselves entirely too much, neglecting God and others. So we must have a blance. God-others-me (which, in some ways, reflects Father-Son-Holy Spirit. We were, after all, created in God's image, which is an image of being in relationship).
So, before you help out that person in the seat next to you, make sure you get your own mask on first.