As our family was leaving the house, our middle child fell down the stairs busting his chin open. My husband and I scrambled to get everyone back inside and assess the situation. Our son was dripping blood on the floor and his shirt. My husband knelt down with our son, reassuring him and taking a look at the wound. “He’s going to need stitches,” he said.
I jumped into a frenzied task mode, running to change my clothes so that I didn’t get blood on the cute outfit I was wearing. Then I started wiping up the blood from the floor before it soaked in and stained the light colored grout and tile in our new home.
While I ran around frazzled, my husband stayed with my son.
We had encountered the same situation but my husband and I had two very different reactions, his reaction being people oriented and mine being task oriented.
My whole life I’ve tended to fall on the task-oriented side of the equation. When something gets hard, I spring into action. Most of the time I think of this as a strength and badge of honor: I’m the person who gets stuff done. But when looking back on situations like this one with my son, my heart is sad and I wonder if perhaps I’m missing the things that are most important.
I recall the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:
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!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “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.” (Luke 10:40-42)
I am often worried and upset about many things, sometimes at the expense of missing the one thing that is needed. I long to be a Mary, to be the one who chooses what is better. A person who chooses peace and presence rather than worry and distraction.
I’m not here to bash Martha though –- we need Marthas. God created Marthas with the ability to be productive and that is a blessing to the body of Christ. Can you imagine a world without Marthas?
The way I’m starting to see it, it’s not Martha’s preparations that were the problem. It was her heart. She was worried and upset. She had stepped out of peace. She was accusing and comparing –- actions that are born of the accuser, not of Jesus.
Comparison always steals our peace, replacing it with pride or shame. When we compare and complain, we choose to entertain thoughts of worry and distraction over those of presence and peace in that moment.
Comparison makes me think of the expression ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ Comparison will leave us admiring other people’s grass. I prefer the expression ‘the grass is greener where you water it.’ Rather than admire the marriage, home, possessions, job, family, friendships etc. of others, it is better to invest deeply in our own. To cultivate greener grass in our own lives. In this case, rather than worry about what Mary was doing, Martha should have been contently focused on her task at hand, operating out of her gifting rather than getting distracted by what Mary was doing.
Choosing presence doesn’t have to mean that we sit idle at the feet of Jesus as Mary did. In His presence, we can get stuff done from a place of peace overflowing from the joy God has placed within us. This is when our tasks can become an act of worship. Presence is a choice we can make each minute. We can choose to engage God in each moment, in each task, choosing to do all unto Him, or we can allow our minds and hearts to become worried and distracted.
Which choice are you making today? Presence and peace, or worry and distraction?