The human heart is a fascinating mechanism. Each day, it beats roughly 100,000 times and pumps somewhere around 2,000 gallons of blood throughout the body. This blood has the very important task of delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells, as well as removing metabolic waste. The circulatory system is so efficient that it only takes about one minute for the blood to make its round trip from, and then back to, the heart. And it’s a good thing it is so good at its job because the job is never-ending.
Perhaps the most intriguing part though? As incredible as it is that the heart continuously takes care of everybody else, it makes sure to take care of itself first. Let’s break that down. In rudimentary terms, the right side of the heart sends old blood to the lungs, where the blood is oxygenated. The lungs then send this “new” blood to the left side of the heart, which then pumps it into the aorta, where it prepares to make its journey through the rest of the body. And HERE is where the magic happens. Coronary arteries branch off of the aorta and lead to the heart itself, allowing this amazing muscle to receive fresh, glorious blood before anyone else. In other words, the heart is always looking out for number one when it comes to its own health and wellbeing. And for good reason.
What would happen if the heart did not take care of itself before taking care of everyone else? It’s the same reason the airline stewardess instructs you to first put on your own mask before attempting to help others. And it boils down to the number one life lesson I’ve learned to date: You cannot take care of others without first taking care of yourself. You’ve heard it before…you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can try as hard as you want, but it’s not feasible, and it’s certainly not sustainable. Eventually, you will wipe out energetically, putting yourself in danger of physical, mental, and emotional turmoil.
There’s a lot of pressure on the heart to perform well. And like the heart, you may have a lot of people who depend on you to be your best. By taking time to find out what it is that fills your soul and then taking the steps to ensure that happens, you will set yourself up for much greater success, and you will be able to pour into others from the overflow you will experience in your own life. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it is necessary. We are called to serve and to love, and it begins right at home. It begins with number one.