The cabin pressurization is failing, the masks deploy and panic spreads. Everyone on the plane is trying to remember what the flight attendant's safety instructions were at on-boarding when they were busy checking their Facebook timelines before takeoff. Her movement of hands and arms and the expanding rubber band mask connector above her halo are the only memories that remain. At this very moment, any recollection of her instructions makes her an angel to you. Parents are scrambling looking for their kids and commandeering masks, plastic tubes and straps are bouncing. People on the plane are going into survival mode and doing whatever they can to breathe.
Even though you are struggling to breathe, you leave your family and start assisting other people. It feels great at first because you are helping others get air, but after several seconds you lose consciousness. Somehow you survive and wake up to the horror that your family did not. It turns out your spouse was stuck in the bathroom stall (wrong morning for frozen El Monterey burritos) and he never made it back to the kids. Sadly, your children did not make it either. Nobody was there for them. They had no oxygen. When they needed you most, at their most vulnerable moment, you were out helping others. Everybody in the plane is shocked to hear that your family did not survive. After all, you were the kind person who helped them in their moment of need. You had it all together, so how did your family die?!
As ridiculous and impractical as this story may seem, it's how many of us live our lives. We put our families last and shirk or forget about their needs entirely. Every day we see our neighbors, colleagues, we meet up with friends, we mentor people, and we treat all of them great. In our conversations with these people we are attentive, kind, patient, funny, forgiving and any other positive trait we can offer to be likable and helpful. It's likely the greater individual responsibility you have, the greater pull you feel from others. Sadly, we often treat them better than our family members. We fill them with oxygen, and leave our spouse and children with not enough. If we are not careful, the people who know and love us the most end up with the least from us.
I want to give my family my BEST every single day.
But why is it so hard?
I believe it is hard because we are not as concerned with impressing our family members. They know us at our worst so there is no image to maintain. We think our spouse and children will never view us as any better or worse than how they currently feel. In reality, this is not true. Just like in the dating phases, every day is a new opportunity to grow closer, build trust, learn, and love your family deeper. Plenty of husbands have grown apart or closer to their wives based on daily decisions they have made that either strengthen or weaken the relationship. I personally have found motivation in giving my best by viewing every day as either a step forward or backward. Also, knowing my time on earth with Linds, Brady, and Colin is limited is additional incentive for making every second count. Like a candlestick, our time burns away and all we can control is our best at this very moment.
In conclusion, I am not saying we should avoid caring for others. However, whose opinions are we most concerned about? How does this influence our decisions, communication, and prioritization of time? Have we ever treated our family poorly or overanalyzed situations related to pleasing or appeasing others? If so, shame on us! I argue we should be more concerned about the opinions of our family than those outside our family. Also, by giving your loved ones the best part of you every day, not only does your family stay intact and healthy, you also position your family for greater service to others. With unlimited oxygen, you can now provide more air for everyone else.