One of my favorite quotes has become “You cannot pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first” – Anonymous. I use to think that this was very selfish. I thought, “Wow you shouldn’t help others until you help yourself” and I really struggled with this.
I became a mom at 17 and I devoted my whole life to my kids. Some think this is being a good mom but now that I look back, it was actually quite the opposite. It usually left me frustrated and irritated. I often grew very impatient with them at the smallest tasks. I was not able to give my best to my kids or husband. I didn’t understand why and it ended up leaving me feeling like I failed as a mom and wife. Let’s dig in to this and why!
In Mark 12:31 Jesus tells us ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Well let’s not take scripture out of context and remember who Jesus was talking to 🙂 He was talking to the religious leaders and as you may well know, they really loved themselves and nobody else! At first I didn’t relate to this scripture because I tended to think that I loved others MORE than myself, and if I was honest I really didn’t care for myself much at all.
Let’s break this down into 3 ways that we may be living our life and really think if it is what Jesus is telling us to do.
First, let’s look at how I lived my life. I “loved” others more than myself. Doing so I thought I was being a good mom and wife. Well let’s be honest my kids got 99% of my love and energy so that left me, as a wife, on the lower end of the scale as well. My kids are so important to me and I wanted to live my life as an example of how I wanted my kids to live theirs. I was giving all I had to my kids but why did I feel like I was failing as a mom. When they saw me drained, tired, irritable, frustrated, hating my job and just plain struggling to make ends meet, I realized that I was not setting a good example on how to live the life I wanted for them. So I started asking myself, can I really love others the way Jesus wants me to if I don’t love myself? I don’t think I honestly can, I tried it and it left me feeling empty, like I was a failure with frustration, irritation, even causing depression because I could not measure up to my own expectations.
Second, let’s look at loving ourselves more than others. This is how the religious leaders were living during the days Jesus voiced these words. They cared more about rules, social structure, how they were viewed, what others thought about them and that they were seen as “holy”, “righteous” and “popular” among the people. So they were basically full of themselves and didn’t care to help others at all. So as Jesus said these specific words directly to them, can you imagine what he was trying to teach them?
Third, let’s look at loving others as yourself, just like Jesus said! What God revealed to me is that Jesus is not saying that it is bad to love myself. To truly love others the way Jesus is telling me to, I need to love and take care of myself, emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. If the religious leaders put as much love and energy into loving others as much as they did themselves, the whole world would have been a better place!
So I had to learn how to love myself and make sure that I am filled up with positivity and God’s truth. I learned how to surround myself with people who spoke life into me. Everything that we see and hear effects our thoughts, so I became very intentional with the music, movies, news, books, magazines that I opened myself up to. I even had to limit the people that I let in my sphere of influence. I needed to be lifted up with hope and confidence so that I could pour out that same energy into my kids, family and community! I realized that I cannot give what I do not have and I cannot pour from an empty cup. So just like the flight attendants tell us before take off, put YOUR oxygen mask on before helping your neighbor put on their mask!
Get filled up and go be a blessing to all of those around you! God Bless 🙂