I am writing this on April 3rd, 2020, a day in history where face masks are scarce across the planet due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is causing global impacts. The Governor of the State of Maryland has just declared a state of emergency imposing an Executive Order to stay and shut-in. I am on my first full week in the house with only having gone out to retrieve groceries for the family before the stay-at-home order was enacted.
Yesterday, I was doing some spiritual studying and discovered how much I have not put an oxygen mask on myself - at all. As I recount, I do not know if I have ever put myself first. In a few weeks, my firstborn child will be 23, and she is a mother to an incredible 3-month-old. To this day, I still worry about her well-being. I run a business that focuses on serving the needs of others in transacting the transfer, marketing, and purchasing real estate. In the past three weeks, I have been on calls and in conversations on how to take care of people, clients, businesses, and communities during this global crisis, and still, I had not connected the dots that I was doing it all without an oxygen mask on.
And I mean, seriously, who do I think I am? Superwomen? Well, perhaps I do. It is an identity I have built for myself to survive the world. An identity that I created to thrive and plow through difficult circumstances that I face through life. And I must say that this identity has served me well. I have produced innumerable results. However, yes, the dreadful, it has lied to me - I have lied to me. I have said, "Yes," when I should have said, "No." I have said, "Yes," when I should have said, “Give me a minute to think about it first," and then said, “Thank you for the offer, but this will not work for me." I have destroyed my physical body that sends me messages in the form of pain signals - every day. Those feelings that say, "Hey, you are not okay, maybe you should slow down and take some time for yourself." I have hit the snooze button on this warning and overrode it so much that I have grown numb to the signals and pushed through enormous pains daily.
If this is my internal experience, then how am I showing up to others? Wait, I am married - I have a partner. No wonder that it is not going so well. Who can handle an oxygen-deprived superhero? I am no one's victim. I am victorious through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13) But, wait a minute, am I letting him strengthen me? When I pray and run, or yet pray-on-the-run, have I made God my curbside pickup or order to go? Do not get me wrong; I am devout, faithful, hard-working, loving, dedicated, loyal, etc. I am a ride-or-die friend to the end. I would give you the shirt off of my back and keep my undergarments to sustain myself. And today, I recognized that there is something wrong with that picture. I am no good to anyone if I do not take care of myself first.
So, today on April 3rd, 2020, I am putting my mask on, preserving my life so that I can live to serve another day.
P.S. I know I am not alone. As strong women, mothers, wives, business owners, employees, friends, etc., we pride ourselves on being able to get it done - by any means necessary! And we do, but at what cost? Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate how much we are doing without putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first.