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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Oxygen Masks




Humor In Chaos

Searching for Joy Series


Oxygen Masks

 

 

As so many other women, I was raised that for me to be a good wife and mother it was my God-given duty to sacrifice myself for my husband and children. That thought process was all around me. From church, family, friends, media, everywhere. A good wife and mother sacrifices everything - heart, soul, energy, dreams and goals, career, body, everything - for her family. That mindset is toxic simply because we cannot give what we do not have.

 

The airplane scenario shows this. We get in our seats all excited for our trip or all anxious about falling out of the sky; so much so that we don’t pay attention to the flight attendants as they go over the safety protocols. I know what I used to think: Who cares about safety protocols if we’re going to die anyway? That was the wrong attitude for me to have. Those protocols have an important life lesson beyond the plane.

 

The flight attendants stand up there showing us how to secure the safety belt. They hold up the instruction cards and go through all that. But then they point out the oxygen masks and say something to the effect of, “Place your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

 

For us parents, especially the moms, that seems ludicrous. If I don’t put the oxygen mask on my child first, then I’m a bad parent. Right? Wrong. That’s backwards.

 

If we don’t put on our own oxygen masks first, then we might pass out before getting the masks on our children, and we both potentially die. So much for enjoying the trip.

 

What happens when our brains don’t get adequate oxygen? Even if we don’t pass out right away, we don’t think straight, we don’t react appropriately, and we make bad decisions. Even if we get the mask on them, we might not get it on correctly, which does no good for the child. However, if we get our mask on first and remain conscious with oxygen flowing so our minds are thinking correctly, we have the ability to put the mask on them to fit properly and possibly save us both.

 

We were told that self-sacrifice is biblical. Wives need to submit to their husbands as stated in Ephesians. The greatest form of love is sacrificing one’s life for one’s friends in John 15. These teachings are true, but often taken out of context. Too often, people don’t read the whole thing.

 

Wives are called to submit AND our husbands are called to love us as they love their own bodies in Ephesians 5. In fact, Paul also says at the beginning of that section in verse 21 that we are to be subject to one another. Biblically, submission is not a one-way street, wife to husband. It’s a partnership of giving and receiving in both directions. A one-flesh covenant. And, in John, Jesus says we are his friends if we do as He commands. A marriage of equals, in submission to each other, is a biblical marriage.

 

I also believed as many do, that if I sacrificed more, my husband would love me more. I was so wrong. The opposite happened. The more I sacrificed, the more he despised me. And when I got sick and he had to do all the sacrificing, which he did a lot, his resentment towards me grew and grew. Why? Unmet expectations.

 

When we get married, we have these grandiose dreams of how it’s going to be. The perfect children, the high-paying jobs, the beautiful house with the white picket fence and crystal blue pool in the backyard, and don’t forget the well-behaved guard dog that never makes a mess on the floor or chews up your shoes.

 

My husband and I didn’t expect to have a criminal in the extended family. We didn’t expect I would get so sick. We didn’t expect friends to betray us. We didn’t expect the economy to crash down around us.

 

We expected the world to love us and bend to our dreams because we loved each other and it so much. Our love was all light and goodness that should have radiated to everyone around us.

 

That’s not how the real-world works. The real world is a hard place of sin and jealousy and unhelpful comparisons to others. The real world hurts.

 

Forgiveness heals those hurts. It doesn’t necessarily fix the problems. It doesn’t necessarily reconcile relationships and bring back losses. It can – potentially – lead to joy, in all new, unexpected ways.

 

The concept of forgiving another for our own healing is often rejected by people. But it’s true. Forgiveness is for our own personal healing as well as the offender. Neither can truly, completely heal without forgiving.

 

I used to see forgiveness as a gift I was giving to the person who hurt me. If that person was not sorry, then they didn’t deserve the gift.

 

When I hurt someone who refused to forgive me because they decided I wasn’t sorry enough, or they are a grudge holder, or I didn’t know I had hurt them and they didn’t speak up, that person was not extending Christian love.

 

Forgiveness is a gift. It is not a gift to be given with conditions. It’s unconditional.

 

I heard Wayne Dyer on a YouTube video tell a story about a Buddha that changed my perspective on forgiveness as a gift. In the story, the Buddha is enduring a man who keeps insulting him repeatedly, and the Buddha ignores him. Finally, after many attempts to anger the Buddha, the man asks him how he has managed to maintain his peace. The Buddha responds by addressing the insults as gifts of anger that the Buddha decides not to accept. The question is, if a gift is not accepted, who owns it? Obviously, the giver of the gift retains ownership. The Buddha refused the anger; therefore, the man in the crowd still owned it.

 

In trying to give anger, if the recipient refuses to accept the anger, the recipient may retain peace and the giver retains the anger. Anger may turn to bitterness, but that is not the fault of the recipient who refused it in the first place. The giver of the anger has the ability to let it go.

 

Same thing with forgiveness. Or grace. Or love. When a giver attempts to give those things, the recipient has the free will to refuse. If the recipient does refuse the gift, the giver retains it. I can retain the peace of the forgiveness I attempted to give. I can turn that forgiveness around and give it to myself. Better yet, I can give it to God as seed for God to plant elsewhere and grow. I win either way.

 

This concept blew my mind. It helped me to shower forgiveness and grace and love more freely.

 

The rejection of my attempts to forgive still hurt. I forwarded all of that on to God, too.

 

The Lord’s Prayer that Jesus gave to us directly tells us to forgive those who trespass against us. Why? Because then we can be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The implication is, if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. That’s one reason why forgiving others is for us. But that’s a guilt trip reason for forgiving, right? No. It’s seed planting. Some seeds will grow, and some will not. A seed cannot grow until it dies. It cannot die and subsequently produce new if we withhold it from the soil in anger or bitterness.

 

Withholding forgiveness keeps me stuck in bitterness. Bitterness is damaging to the soul.

 

People are too quick today of accusing others of bitterness. Bitterness takes time and negative thoughts to form. Bitterness is not growth. It’s a mud pack. It’s where little kids lose their shoes in the mud and need a pitchfork to dig them out.

 

Forgiving the people who have hurt me is for me. It keeps me out of the bonds of bitterness.

 

Forgiving is good for the people around me. It gives God opportunities to work in other areas as He works on me.

 

My children have been just as hurt as I have been, and in some ways more. It is my responsibility as a parent, even a parent of adult children, to show them by example what the forgiveness of God is about. How to do it. Why do it. The importance of it. The love that surrounds it. Those are more seeds that forgiveness plants in all of us.

 

Forgiving keeps me humble. It reminds me that we are all subject to sin. No one is immune.

 

Where does sin come from? Often, from pain. One sin can start a chain reaction that leads to other pains and other sins. The cycle can keep going on and on until someone makes the conscious decision to end it. These cycles don’t end with anger. They end with forgiveness. End the cycle, love can grow. End the cycle, peace fills the space. End the cycle, joy can be nurtured.

 

Our sinful natures can push us away from forgiveness and steer us towards revenge.

 

I had more than one opportunity for revenge. I had people advise me to go for it. Thankfully, I had godly people in my life also advising me to steer away from that mentality. Revenge only adds on hurts.

 

Why do people hurt others? Why do people sin? Hurts. Pain. Unmet expectations. Bitterness.

 

Revenge would only add to all that garbage which would lead to more sin. What good would that do me or anyone around me?

 

Here is the bottom line on forgiveness:

 

Jesus suffered for our sins.

 

All of our sins. All of us.

All.

 

Yours, mine, everyone around us, including spouses who have left us or betrayed us.

 

When I think about what Jesus went through carrying His Cross on His shoulders, enduring that crown of thorns, surviving flesh torn from His back, and hanging there by nails through his hands and feet; that makes me pause and think, “How dare I not forgive that person whom Christ suffered and died for? How arrogant does that make me to believe that I am capable of judging that person, whoever that person is, of not being worthy of Christ’s forgiveness?”

 

What if I can’t forgive? Or, what if I feel like forgiving is wrong at this time? Or, what if this was an unforgivable offense?

 

We have no idea why the two criminals were on crosses alongside Jesus. The Bible doesn’t say. Jesus doesn’t ask them. One of them is ready to receive forgiveness; the other is not. Jesus is ready to forgive them both.

 

No one should be pressured to forgive. There isn’t a timeline, not even in death. There is a heart-opening, not an ending in forgiveness. Feelings change. All things come to pass in due time.

 

Jesus forgave as he was hanging from the Cross. He forgave while it was happening. As the worst was happening. He didn’t wait until it was all done and healed. However, I don’t have Christ’s strength. I think He forgives when we take time to forgive. After all, it isn’t a one and done anyway. Forgiveness is a process.

 

There is another important example for us in His forgiving while dying: that doesn’t mean He succumbed to the abuses. He didn’t fight them, but He also didn’t simply succumb to them. He triumphed over them. Not by punishment of His abusers. He triumphed by becoming His full self as the Son of God, Lord of Heaven and Earth.

 

We aren’t the Second Person of the Holy Trinity like Jesus, but we are children of God, the Father, called to a purpose here on earth. We are called to follow in Jesus’ steps as best as our human frailty can muster. To love and forgive.


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!

 

Sarah

Humor In Chaos


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