Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Confessions of a Martha

Now as they went on their way, [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ --Luke 10: 38-42 NRSV

My mental illness is most pronounced first thing in the morning. When I roll out of bed, my brain takes flight like a startled covey of pheasants. While turning on the shower a single thought; a song lyric, movie line or newly created piece of narrative, for example, loops crazily until I realize it’s stuck on repeat and then deliberately shove it aside. My morning routine is a practiced ritual from the order in which I cleanse my body to the sequence in which I assemble my breakfast. If I get distracted in the slightest, it’s almost guaranteed that I will forget something and, upon sitting down to eat, will realize I am without a fork or a napkin or—the horror!—my coffee.

Once the food and caffeine begin coursing through my veins, my thought processes become more linear. I wish I could say that the mental mania subsides completely, but I can’t. Sometime after the coffee, I create a list of all the things I’d like to accomplish in those generous hours my kids are in school. I am aware as I write this list that it’s going to be impossible, but I tell myself that as long as the highest priorities are covered, I can let the rest go. I seldom do. Because inevitably, the things I most want to do wind up at the bottom of the list. And as the weeks pass, the list of “want to do’s” grows rapidly without the “have to do’s” proportionally scaling back. So I am left each day feeling like Martha—standing in the kitchen at 9:00pm wondering where my day has gone, irritated with everyone around me, and feeling the pain and sadness of once again having missed out on “the good stuff.”

I want to be Mary. I honestly do. I believe that writing creatively is what God wants for me. After years of fear that I loved writing too much, that I would never be allowed to do it seriously because it was selfish and wrong, I have finally reached a place of trust that God would not have given me this passion if I wasn’t intended to use it.

So why am I standing in the kitchen still trying to complete my “to do” list before I’m allowed to go and experience the joy of sitting at Jesus’ feet? Why am I unable to reconcile my need to create with the full basket of laundry on the couch, the grant deadlines and the sound of the school bus dropping off my kids at the end of their day? I mean, even if Martha had joined her sister, eventually someone would have had to clean up the dinner dishes. I don’t suppose Jesus would have offered to do them for her.

But maybe that’s where I’m wrong. Maybe if I’m just willing to set aside my own agenda for a while and stop to listen to God’s call, I’ll find that there is time for everything. Everything in God’s plan, anyway. I believe my creativity is a part of that plan. So I will stop and listen and have faith that all those little tasks will still get done. Nothing is impossible for God.

1 comment:

  1. This was EXACTLY what I needed to read tonight. HP, I'm trying really hard to listen... but I'd love for you to give me a little yell. Thanks.

    And thank you Rebekah.