Jesus set another parable before them, saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31–32)
The significant lesson that is often drawn in the aforementioned parable is the size of the proverbial mustard seed, which is smaller than all seeds. While the physical size of a mustard seed suggests that it is inadequate, under certain conditions—it can grow into a large bush, which can become the nesting place of birds. Yet, before the seed becomes an enormous tree-like bush, it must submit to a process. Elementary science calls it growth.
When one becomes a parent, they are preoccupied with many things. The usual mindset is everything I do now is for my family. Parents work for their children. Parents bring them to school in the morning before going to work. After work, parents go straight to pick them up from school. Parents send them to tutorial classes, karate classes, swimming lessons, and the like on weekends. Some become soccer moms or basketball dads on weekends, while others attend ballet recitals. Parents do these because of one simple reason: they all want the best for their children.
However, as parents, we do not stop growing. We do not stop caring for ourselves. How can we raise better persons than ourselves if we are beaten up? The Latin cliché nemo dat quod non habet. One cannot give which he does not have.
Several academes in the country offer adult learning and continuing professional education programs for professional skill enhancement and enrichment. These programs are geared toward lifelong learning and to ensure a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce for career mobility, job enhancement, and personal enrichment.
Lawyers have their Mandatory Continuing Legal Education To (MCLE) wherein every member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) must complete a thirty-six (36) credit unit of legal course every three (3) years during the compliance period to ensure that all lawyers keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the profession’s ethics, and enhance the standards of the practice of law, and so are the other professionals.
Why not with our individual growth? If the proverbial mustard seed averted change and died, how could the birds nestle in the bosom of its branches? How can seeds give out fruits without growing?
St. Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) What St. Paul wants from us is to put away are our childish ways. He wanted us to think like adults and, as such, act like one. A scenario of children raising fellow children is awful and disastrous.
Therefore, let us nurture ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Buy books on self-help. There are several of these at The National Bookstore and Fully-Booked. Though, those by Bo Sanchez are easy to read and straightforward.
Enroll in your local gym. Lift weights or run the treadmill.
Do morning or evening runs. It is a cheap and instant source of dopamine to clear one’s mind and feel good.
Get yourself a decent bicycle. Join other mountain bike junkies as weekend warriors.
Spend an hour or two at your favorite salon or spas. Go “malling”. Buy the recent release of Jordans.
Regularly visit your family physicians and have medical check-ups.
Or do gardening.
The leading cause of depression is our tired physical body. Parents are overworked. We sleep late at night because we work overtime. Or we cannot sleep because we keep thinking about unfinished work in the office. Worse, working parents bring work to the home, and the house becomes an office extension. There is confusion. There is no more delineation. Offices are converted as cozy as they can get to feel that every employee feels at home. This is not to discount the daily traffic jams in going to work, which also causes stress. Thus, the cycle of stress is unending, day in and day out.
Experts say that the leading cause of depression is our burnout bodies. It can no longer cope with the demands of the rat race. The race has poisoned our souls, and we are depressed. Once depression sets in, we go home to our families tired, so we doze off without talking or go home to them irritable. We explode at the slightest provocation by our children. We are exhausted and overstretched.
Experts agree that the best cure for depression is exercise. It need not be expensive. One can go out and bask in the sun, walking or running. Most psychologists recommend walking or jogging to cure depression the natural way. Dr. -Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says, “In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression.”
My wife and I have been into running for a decade now, and we can attest to the truth of “runner’s high.” This is triggered by the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins that shut off negative emotions we get from exercise, running in particular. Running 5 kilometers in the evening kept my sanity during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Phil Knight, an American multi-billionaire, founder, and chairman emeritus of Nike Inc., describes running as a mystical exercise no less than prayer and meditation. It helped him clear his head during difficult days as a distributor of Onitsuka Tiger shoes. If he did not grow as a distributor of Japanese track shoes, you would not have your famous Nike J’s and the legendary swoosh logo on your feet.
ASICS, the world-renowned Japanese brand of track and field shoes and the producers of the famous Onitsuka Tigers, got its name from the Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano (ASICS),” which translates as “Healthy soul in a healthy body.” The abbreviation is a testament to the benefits of running to wellness and exercise in general.
So, let’s pamper ourselves once in a while. Rest. Have a “me time.” It is nothing selfish. It is rejuvenating. Unload. Do things that make you a better person so you can be a better parent. We have to be healthy to live longer, and to see our kids grow and become parents themselves. Let us not die young.
During the last year of his life, I remember my father was often heard that he would have wanted to see his grandchildren grow. But unfortunately, my father died at the young age of 66 when my daughter was only four years old. He could have lived at least five more years and seen his eldest granddaughter win her first singing competition, but he never did all due to his uncontrolled diabetes early on. Indeed, growing is a privilege denied to few. Let us make the most out of it while we still can.
However, stay aware of the process. Strike a balance between choosing yourself and being consumed by our roles as parents. Let us make that clear. Just because you decide for yourself doesn’t mean you are neglecting your family. It places you in a better position to offer an even greater love because the place from which you are pouring it is complete and overflowing.