Yep. I missed the whole point of the story for years.
I cannot remember a time when I didn't have a list of things "To Do" sitting on the counter or tucked into my purse or on my desk at work. Sometimes, I have one in all three places. Occasionally, I will find an old list in my purse and realize there are a couple of things on there I never took care of. That's how my brain works, I guess--out of sight, out of mind. There are weeks that are so full of activities and responsibilities that I'm pretty sure I could not function without a list. The List provides direction, boundaries, and--most importantly--it provides a sense of accomplishment. And, Heaven knows I love to feel I accomplished something!
This is the week before vacation. That's right--tomorrow we pile into the Murano and head out for a 10 hour drive to Pennsylvania. That makes today the busiest day of my whole week, as I clear my desk, tidy the house, do all the laundry, and remember everything I need to pack for the trip. This has also been the week for Vacation Bible School at my church. On top of that, two of the nurses I work with in our office have experienced family emergencies that have necessitated their absence for at least 2 days of the week; the rest of us are "covering" their responsibilities, in addition to our own. And, we had a baby shower at work for one of our business office personnel, so I had food to prepare for that. Just writing all this makes me feel a little stressed!
The thing is, other than a couple of "OH NO" moments, I haven't really felt overwhelmed. Really. I can hardly believe it myself. I may have learned a bit about "Stress-Less Living" during this whole online Bible study!
I realized a couple of weeks ago that this week was going to be packed tight with important tasks and unavoidable responsibilities, so I tried to plan ahead and think critically about what my limitations were.
- I was honest with the VBS leader about how much I could participate
- I started my cleaning chores two weeks beforehand
- I signed up for food for the shower that I could make easily in the evening after VBS
- I reminded myself, repeatedly, that I can only do one task at time--so concentrate on the current task and do it right the first time
- I didn't skip any part of my Bible study/prayer time
That's what Mary understood as she sat at the feet of Jesus, and it's what Martha was struggling with. Martha wanted to make everything perfect for Jesus--including herself. That was never going to happen and could only end badly--probably with Martha snapping at servants and family members and crying in her room later over what a failure she had been. I know; I've done that. Her focus on all of the things she could do was being used by the Devil to distract her from the things Jesus wanted to do in her life. That's just how it is with perfectionism. It starts with our activities, but it takes over our heart, and soon we find ourselves trying to become good enough for Jesus.
But, Jesus gently reproved her and redirected her priorities. Her worry over the "many things" was put into proper perspective. He pointed her toward the "one thing" that really mattered.
You know, the Bible doesn't tell us that Martha went back to the kitchen. I'd like to think that she grasped the truth of what Jesus was explaining to her and had a seat right there next to Mary, at the feet of Jesus.