In the Bible, Luke Chapter 10, there is a story about two sisters, Martha and Mary. It goes like this:
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So picture this: Martha–Most likely the older sister, welcoming Jesus into her home, slaving away, cleaning and cooking and making sure everything is perfect for Jesus. And then on the flip side of this, her sister Mary sits at the foot of Jesus listening to Him.
I am such a MARTHA! I see my sister sitting there, doing nothing. Just listening. When JESUS the Christ is here, in our home…and I am in awe of how disrespectful that is! So obviously I apologize to the Lord in a way that also calls out the laziness of my sister. Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! And here I am expecting him to be like YEAH MARY! Help her. I was expecting Him to answer the cry of my heart. To care. But instead he responded with Martha, Martha. 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.
I remember a moment last year when I was the busiest I have ever been and my friend Bridgette had a conversation with me. She said something along the lines of, “I can feel your stress and anxiety from here and it’s heavy, so I cannot imagine what it feels like for you. Something needs to give.” I was like hahaha. What though? And maybe you can relate to this: We are college students, we are athletes, we are parents, we have jobs. We are busy. How is there any room to give? So we went through my schedule and made a chart of everything that I was doing and everything that fueled me. The point she was trying to make was that I wasn’t doing enough things that fueled me, or I had things in my day that were time-sucking and unnecessarily exhausting.
The funny thing is–the lists both consisted of the same things: planning a retreat, prepping and leading bible studies, teaching catechesis, prayer, school, etc. All of these were things that either brought me life or were things I had committed to, so what was wrong? Wasn’t I doing everything right, just like Martha? But if I was doing everything right, why did I feel like I was in over my head? The reality was that there wasn’t so much a problem with what was ON the list, but a glaring absence of what wasn’t on it. An absence of rest. An absence of spontaneity. The only time I dedicated to sleep was when my body physically could not go on. I didn’t really have any time with friends. I never really stopped thinking about working. Holy leisure was absent in my life. To me, everything in my life had to be perfect.
The reality is, Jesus does not expect perfection from us… He doesn’t need many good things or even few great things. He only needs one–it’s you. A relationship with you. Mary has chosen the better part it will not be taken from her. Sitting and doing nothing? That is better? It’s okay if that does not sound appealing to you or even sounds like a waste of time. Kind of makes me want to vomit. *shutters*
And why does that make me so sick? Why is silence and rest so terrifying to us? For me, I like to run away. I like to numb myself to the world around me and distract myself from the truth. I am afraid. I am afraid to face the brokenness within me and within our world. I’m afraid because if I’m not busy then I have time to feel that. If I am not busy, I have time to think about what I have done and what I am doing and what my life has turned into. I’m afraid because if I am not busy I don’t know who I am.
Maybe you have become a product to this culture as well that puts its worth into how much you get done or how much you achieve or how well you perform or for me, if you can do it on your own and make it look easy. Maybe resting causes you more anxiety, or maybe you can only rest when everything hits its breaking point and you are forced to run to Jesus as a final resort and say Jesus don’t you care? Don’t you see how heavy this weight is that I am carrying? Don’t you see all of the things I am doing for you? Do you not want anyone to help me?
Think about Martha. She is worried about many things. Why doesn’t Jesus want someone to help her? He does. She has just lost hope that Jesus wants her just for her and not for what she achieves.
The time is now–to start allowing Jesus to be enough and allowing yourself to be who you are. It’s the one thing that Jesus talked about. It will not be taken from us.
We must hope in this truth that there is a light within the darkness. The darkness that is part of the busyness without rest and the time-sucking nature of our culture we so often fall into. Jesus is our light. He is the way. The one that casts out the darkness.
He is waiting for you to stop doing the dishes, stop cleaning the house, stop trying to make everything perfect. He is waiting for you to come and find rest at his feet. Let Him be enough.
Amor Vincit Omni|Love Conquers All