I’m just working for the weekend. If I hurry up and get it done now, I can relax later. If I don’t do it, who will?
Have you found yourself thinking these things lately? In a world of go, go, go, and do, do, do – it becomes a badge of honor we wear proudly. It lets others know that we are important. It shows that we are dedicated. It indicates our involvement and our endless devotion to our children.
I love the quote that says we expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work. Instead, we find ourselves running around at a maddening rate trying to check off every box while maintaining a flawless demeanor.
It’s not just women either. There are men climbing ladders and chasing the next big thing, too. It’s not seen as especially masculine to miss a board meeting to attend a ballet. And of course, we’ve got to make sure to get the perfect picture to post. Otherwise, how will people know how busy we are and how good we are at keeping up with the Joneses?
Guess what? We were never called to exhaust ourselves in this way.
I’ve been reading about Mary and Martha this week and am overwhelmed by their story. As a refresher, Jesus stopped to have dinner in a village at the home of Martha. She was fussing about the kitchen getting the meal prepared, setting the table, putting more toilet paper in the guest bathroom, and fluffing the pillows. Her sister Mary shirked her duties, instead sitting in the living room listening to Jesus. Martha – worried about burning her biscuits and still needing to run back out to the car and get the new serving pieces she had picked up at TJ Maxx – asked Jesus why he wasn’t telling Mary to get up and help her. His response was that Martha was too worried about things happening in the here and now, missing the big picture that she was in the presence of the Lord.
It’s tough being Martha. Especially when you’ve been being Martha for a long time. People expect it. You feel guilty when you don’t live up to your Martha reputation. You know people are annoyed that you always have to have things just so, but if you were to rely on them, they’d be sitting around like Mary!
On the other hand, if we are like Mary, it’s easy for others to assume you are lazy. Or worse – don’t care that your children were the only ones who didn’t bring homemade cupcakes to the party. Mary’s mama obviously didn’t teach her that you are supposed to offer your guests some sweet tea when they arrive. You definitely don’t sit on the floor chatting instead of helping your sister.
I’m not sure we know how to find the balance between our Martha and Mary tendencies. Sure, we make time to grab coffee with friends (in our individual cars 6 ft apart) or to listen to the cashier at checkout rambling about her day. But in our minds, we are checking off the things we need to do next, the things we could be doing right now, and the things we’d rather be doing, but won’t have time for today. Our Martha mindset takes over and we are ambling on to the next appointment.
We have a hard time surrendering at the feet of Jesus because we feel like we have to be actively doing something and doing it ourselves. It scares us to think that anything can be out of our control. We like to analyze every possible outcome then choose the path that is most advantageous to us. It feels uncomfortable to slow down and really listen to someone else.
Mary figured it out, though. She recognized that the word of the lord would be better than any fried chicken this side of heaven could possibly be. She knew her heart needed to be filled with the savior.
I thought about Mary this week while lying awake one night worrying about my patients at work, my children at daycare, my husband and his many hats, and my role to take care of them all.
Two things were made clear to me:
- I’m not called to take care of everybody – Jesus does that. (You aren’t either!)
- If I’m awake anyway, what a perfect time to spend some one-on-one time LISTENING to Jesus.
I stopped listing out my concerns and offering my solutions to how God should fix these things and asked Him to, instead, show me what His plan is for us. I put away my preoccupations with duties and listened. Just be still. It’s hard to do. It takes a lot of practice and redirecting your mind back from making a grocery list to focus on being in the presence of the Lord.
You don’t have to kneel at the altar to be on holy ground. If your heart is turned toward Jesus, you yourself are holy ground. God will speak if you are listening.
Don’t be distracted by the things around you that you want to control. Your visitors really don’t care if you have dust bunnies under the couch. Your kids don’t care that you sent a Lunchable today. Your coworkers don’t care if your shoes aren’t on trend. Jesus definitely doesn’t worry about those things.
He is worried about your heart. He is inviting you to hang out in the living room (or car or bedroom or sanctuary) and leave your worries with him. He will provide a way in the wilderness. He is not surprised at the things you are struggling with, the things you are trying to keep hidden. He just wants you to let him handle them.
And when you decide that it’s ok to be like Mary, don’t be surprised at how much your world changes. As good as you are at being Martha, Jesus is better. Let him in. Start with a tiny prayer. Trust him with what you can. Then watch what God can do.
Luke 10:38-42 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”