Parents, Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

My bonus dad had his pilot’s license. Growing up, our family traveled thousands of miles in our shiny white, twin-engine Navajo with a vibrant blue and red stripe down the side. One thing holds true, no matter how you fly: regardless of the size of the airplane, if the cabin’s pressurization system fails, passengers will need the oxygen mask which is conveniently located in the ceiling above their seats. As a matter of fact, flight attendants specifically instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks first before assisting someone else, whether it be a child or a fellow passenger. The flight attendant then reiterates this message to each parent on the flight who is traveling with a child to make sure they know to put their mask on first. This perhaps will not only save their life but their child’s.

On one fateful flight headed home from Florida, we had to don our oxygen masks as Roy (my bonus dad) was forced to pilot us through the edge of a tornado. The masks dropped from the Navajo’s ceiling when the computer controls failed. To make matters worse, he had to navigate manually through the treacherous storm. Unbeknownst to me and my siblings, we were at one point upside down, and then we lost an engine. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face, even with her mask on, as these events unfolded. By the grace of God and Roy’s expertise, we landed safely. Without putting on our oxygen masks first, we would not have survived the roller coaster ride of the flight.

Our life with the Lord and raising our children is no different. Our oxygen is God’s word. We must first be students of God’s word if we want to impart God’s wisdom to our children.

Born into sin, we all fall short of God’s glory. Our life must be committed to Christ alone before we can teach our children of God’s goodness. Scripture is clear: God intends for us to study his word so He can equip us in our lives and then lives of our children. God’s word prepares us for the good works he has in store for us as parents.

“All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17

By spending time with God, alongside the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we allow his inspired words to teach, shape, and mold us. Like the oxygen mask, caring for our spiritual souls first will better equip us as parents. It will be impossible to train our children up if we are not first doing it for ourselves. We must be connected to God first before we can teach our children God’s way.

Jesus gives us a great example of studying as a discipline in Luke 2. Jesus was in his youth when, unbeknownst to his parents, he chose to stay behind at the Passover Festival. When his parents finally found him, Jesus was sitting in the temple absorbing like a sponge all the teachers had to offer. When his parents questioned why he would put them in such anguish, he said, “Didn’t you know that it is necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Even Jesus needed to be with God first to prepare him for his upcoming journey before dying on the cross for our sins.

Just like the branch needs the vine which is rooted into the ground to receive the nutrients to grow, we too need to be connected to Jesus to be nourished. (John 15:4-5) We need to bask in His truth, wisdom, and instruction so that we can adequately face all the joys and challenges of parenting. We must remain  connected to him; Jesus is our oxygen mask. He will sustain us on our journey of raising our kids, whether it is a smooth ride or a turbulent one. As parents, to bear fruit, we must be students of his word.

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)(

Everything we need to be effective parents is in God’s word. As we read, the Bible will penetrate every crevice of our being. Just as we are sinful beings, so are our children. His teaching will not only convict us of our own need for repentance of the sins which have taken up residence in our souls, but it will also be the guiding light in training up our children. By studying God’s word, it will help us identify and guide our children when they too are faced with sin, whether it be idolatry, lying, lust, or jealousy. When we are connected to our life support, Jesus, our vision is clearer, and our ways are better aligned with God’s path for us as parents. When we remain in him, we truly can guide our children by training them up in what God desires rather than what the world teaches.

If you do not have a consistent study pattern, find another person, a spouse or friend or bible study group who will join you in being accountable to be in his word daily. Start small by carving out ten to twenty minutes of your day which is devoted to reading and studying his word. The more you prioritize this commitment, the more it becomes a daily craving, one you cannot function without. God will meet you there each day and teach you, even in your joys, failures, and frustrations of parenting. There is an unveiling every time you are in His presence and in His word.

God’s word is your lifeline in this journey of parenting and for all the times to come. God’s word will guide you every step of the glorious and daunting path. Make sure to put on your oxygen mask FIRST!

Meredith Exline is a writer, teacher, and speaker who is passionate about helping women navigate the transitions in their lives. She has been married for more than two decades and has two young adult children. Meredith has dedicated herself to raising her children and served her community as an elected School Board Member for seven years at one of Oklahoma’s largest school districts. She has been an avid advocate for public education and founded Oklahoma Central Parent Legislative Action Committee, now OKPLAC.

She is a studier and active reader of God’s Word, enjoys leading bible studies, and was a contributing writer for Henderson Hills Student Ministries for over 6 years. Besides her family, her passions include sharing God’s Word, gardening, traveling, entertaining, and cooking.

Meredith has recently launched her website Refreshed Soul as a place for women to find respite, grace and growth in Christ through our ever-changing lives. You can also find Meredith on Instagram @therefreshedsoul.

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