The interesting thing I noted was that the parent will often have something to eat themselves before taking food to the baby. It seems a bit selfish, but I think there’s method in their madness. It’s a bit like the instructions you get on a plane. At the beginning of a trip, safety instructions are provided and you’re told that if you have children put your own oxygen mask on before you put one on your child.
The principle is simple. If you’re not safe yourself, you’re not in a position to make your child safe. Magpies have worked that one out.
Counsellors, too, are very much aware that if they are going to be effective in helping people, they have to look after their own mental health first.
Some people are naturally very caring and want to help people who they see are in need, but at times they put themselves at risk in the process of helping others. While we need to care for others we also need to care for ourselves.
There’s a few ways we can do that. We need to look after ourselves physically, to make sure we eat properly, have proper exercise and not to over-indulge. We need to protect our relationships and we need to guard our time to make sure that there’s a balance between the amount of time we put into work, to family, and to what we may call self-care.
But the other area that often gets forgotten is looking after our spiritual health. Human beings are spiritual beings. Most parents want their children to grow up as healthy, well-balanced adults, and many parents are aware of the need of some kind of spiritual stability for their children.
But it’s easy to neglect your own spiritual health, while you worry about your children or another member of the family or a friend, who is in difficulty. Spiritual practices like prayer, meditation and worship are important and help to build spiritual health.
But sometimes people think that this is enough of itself. God created people with the need to live in relationship with him. And good spiritual health is most achievable when we live in a healthy relationship with God. The Bible tells us that God loved us so much that he came to this earth himself in the form of a human being, Jesus Christ, and he gave up his life for us.
Jesus invites us to come to him, to admit our faults and failings, and accept his gracious offer of love and forgiveness. Find a quiet time to step aside from everything else that’s happening and have that conversation with God.
Being right with God puts you in a stronger position to be in a good place with yourself. It helps you to get a better perspective on where you fit in the world, and who you are as a person.
But it also puts you in a stronger position to support other people, to be a good role model and to have the spiritual strength to help others to grow as well. Check out the magpies next time you see them feeding their young. And remember if you’re going to be any good for anyone else, you need to look after yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.