Recently, I have blogged quite a bit on serenity. Serenity is sought out by many of us on a daily basis. Just take a typical day in my house brings me to my knees praying for serenity.
When I wake up in the morning the day begins with kids rushing around, finding books, backpacks, coats, homework and making lunches. It is hectic and chaotic. I would venture to guess the mood in my house exudes the exact opposite of serenity. As I am driving my last two kids to school, all I can think about is the serenity that will magically appear when I drop them off. The doors to my car open and I expect this huge burst of wind to take out all the chaos. After the chaos gushes out my car door, I wait for the calming presence of no one. It never happens. You know why? Because I start thinking of what I have to do for the day. I begin to create more chaos in my head. I pick up my cell phone and call people who create more chaos and thoughts into my brain. What am I doing? I longed for the serenity of life, yet when I had my chance, I passed it up.
One of the synonyms of serenity is stillness. This is where I miss the mark for my chance at peace. I never allow myself to just be still. Stillness to me means I am being lazy and not earning my “paycheck” as CEO of the household. Stillness is for people who do nothing for God. Stillness is for people who don’t have the energy that I do. I COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG. It is like the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is busy tending to the tasks of the day. She is in the kitchen preparing a meal for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She is so busy with the day that she forgets to enjoy the moment. Mary on the other hand is sitting and listening to Jesus. She is soaking up every word He says and savoring in the moment – a moment she may never have again. Mary is being still. Martha is being… well, she is being – me.
Luke 10:38-42 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving came to him and said “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
I am Martha. I love a checklist. I miss the God moments in life because of my love of checking things off. I forget to be still and listen. Sometimes I even put things on my list that I have already accomplished just so I can check them off again! That is how crazy I am about checklists.
Within the story of Mary and Martha there is a lesson to be learned. Even though in this bible story Martha sounds like a whiner and a tattletale; she is acting like so many of us. We may not go tattle on those who are annoying us with their laziness, but we have thought about it. I don’t know about you, but I get so annoyed with (what I believe are) “lazy” people that I start to boil up with anger. Why aren’t they helping me? Why are they just sitting there? Why haven’t they done this? Why am I always the one doing everything around here?
Have you heard those words before in your mind (or maybe even out loud)? When I get up on my high horse, I start to mumble. My kids will tell you. I start to say aloud all the things that are going on in my head because I feel like no one is pitching in. Don’t even dare mumble back at me because I just might snap!
There are moments in my “busyness” that I think about why I am doing things as a checklist instead of enjoying each moment. After all, I am a woman, and I am more than capable of multi-tasking. I could be cooking dinner and listening at the same time; engaging in the conversation instead of just being bitter that I have to work and listen. I should be thinking of Pete who is still at work, and I am able to stay home and spend time with the kids. Yes, they argue and fight and even annoy me a little, but I am present with them. While I am cooking and cleaning, I get to hear their conversations. Pete would pay money to be able to do that. He comes home and asks the same questions about the kids’ day that I did. They usually are bored with the conversation by then, so they don’t give him all the great details that I got. You see, if I don’t take advantage of those God moments with my kids, I will lose the “better part.”
Just today, I was sitting at church waiting for Kate to finish up Sunday School when one of my friends came over and sat with me. I thanked her for all she had done to make Kate’s First Reconciliation (Confession) last week go so smoothly. She puts in a lot of hours at our church and her time is so valuable. As we sat and talked about our career paths and life journeys, we found that the two of us had quite a unique bond. If I hadn’t taken this moment away from my writing to talk with a dear friend, then I would have missed yet another God moment. Yes, God works through people in my life. I am so grateful that I sat and listened. I am so grateful that I just stayed still. Serenity really is a wonderful virtue. It is one that I should strive for on a daily basis.
Now, without all of Martha’s hard work, there wouldn’t have been much dinner served that night. The flip side to Mary (or the virtue of listening) is that Martha’s work is much needed (and appreciated). Cooking, cleaning, and preparing a meal for our Lord and Savior is important work. There must be a balance in there. Martha was so engrossed in checking off her list, that she became annoyed and angry at her sister, Mary. Instead of working out of love, she was working out of necessity. When our work becomes a burden to us; that might be the first clue that we need more time being still. We need more time with God. We need more time to rejuvenate our soul.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Doing everything out of love will make your work less of a burden and more of a joy. You won’t miss the God moments if you can just find the love in what you do. Imagine what your family would do without you. Imagine what it means to them to have you present with them. Move past all the arguments and exhaustion and let God reveal to you the blessing that you are to your family. Every time you cook that meal, or carpool another child, or clean another spill, or change another diaper, or care for another parent, realize that you are giving back love to that person. If you do it grumbling and complaining, you are only making the situation worse.
Phillipians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing
Find love this week in what you do that seems mundane. Figure out why God needs you to do this same old, everyday work and rejoice in it.