I’m a Martha.
I’m not the stereotypical housekeeping, cooking, guest-hosting Martha that we hear about in church all the time. I’m the research, study, solve problems, teach, “check just one more thing of my list” kind of Martha.
Actually, all Marthas are “check-things-off-my-list” kind of people. That’s the point. We Marthas make ourselves busy with different kinds of things, but the key is – we make ourselves busy.
We push the world forward. At work I am complimented for my instinct for “pushing things through” and making things happen, so it is a strength, and as a strength it must be a talent God wants me to use. Besides, without Marthas, a lot of stuff would just not get learned, taught, discovered, cooked, cleaned, etc. Pick a “doing” verb and you’ve got the picture.
But Jesus gently reminded the ever-busy and occasionally resentful Martha that not everyone IS like that – and that we can only really do one thing at a time so we might as well pick the most important thing. (Luke 10)
Last night and today the most important thing for me was family.
You see, I really should be writing. I have goals – promises I made to myself. Like self-publishing a book by next summer. Like blogging here twice a week. Like researching and learning and having something valuable to add here so you who take the time to read my words come away with something new and useful.
But with a very busy work schedule I have had a lot of trouble making the time to meet my personal writing goals. So I really should be finishing up the next installment on my Isaiah series, which is so relevant to the current season, and doing some reading on the time period for my book.
my daughter was sick on Tuesday and when she asked me to snuggle her I didn’t because I had to finish some room rearranging that was left undone. Last night my husband was sick, which kept me up most of the night, and I had a chance to think. I suddenly remembered that I had told my tender 9 year old that putting away books and moving furniture was more important than her, when she was in bed with a fever and feeling awful.
I felt terrible.
So when she woke me up at 4 in the morning today with a truly horrid nightmare, even though I felt bad for her, I thanked God for the opportunity to make things up to her. I sang to her, snuggled her, and let her stay with me till morning. She was incredibly happy today and I don’t think it was a coincidence.
And my other daughter is still young enough that she tells me all the time “I just want to be with you.” (awww). Four-year-olds don’t really understand that “work from home” means “Mommy’s not here” and sometimes it breaks her little heart that I won’t let her come into my office.
So today, when my husband had to sleep all day to fight off his virus and I had to transport the girls to school and take care of evening bedtime, I again saw it as an opportunity.
We made the most of our opportunities….
The girls and I got donuts and chocolate milk for breakfast. Then before bed we drank tea together and enjoyed a long talk about school and germs and how white blood cells work (my children are mind-hungry. Definitely my girls! ). We sang and read a bedtime prayer and had quiet reading time near each other.
It was wonderful and the girls definitely loved the company.
Even so… I felt mildly guilty for not DOING anything. Dishes need to be washed. Writing and research need to be done. I wanted to get my next Isaiah post out yesterday. And I need to get the house ready for Christmas weekend guests.
And even though the girls are asleep now, the lack of sleep last night and the extra things I had to do today have made me too exhausted to tackle anything so weighty.
Then God again brought the word “opportunity” to mind. And He gently reminded me of the altogether too familiar tale of Martha, who was doing lots of important stuff, but not pausing long enough to rest in the company of loved ones.
So I write this quick post now, not to justify slowness in my writing, but to remind myself that my choices last night and today were the right ones and the guilt is false. I will never finish everything I ever want to. This journey of growth and learning is just too big for all that and I cannot do it all! Further, when I try, I miss the opportunities God puts in front of me to learn and teach, to hug and snuggle, to just BE with loved ones.
Jesus said some things are just more important. He said that Mary chose the most important thing. Perhaps He did mean spending time with the Savior, for certainly that time is refreshing and critical for growth.
But more than that, I think He meant spending time with our loved ones (for Jesus and the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus were friends).
I think that we Marthas are doing important work. I just think sometimes, God gives us the chance to set it down for a moment – because it will always be there to pick back up later, but our 4 year olds and 9 year olds will not.
Particularly in this busy holiday season, are there areas in your life where your Martha instincts are preventing you from being with your loved ones: children, spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents, the Savior?
Perhaps it is time to open our eyes to to the little opportunities God gives us.