Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another angry sandwich maker

I'm a recovering workaholic, a Martha in remission. 

A month ago, the Martha symptoms were fully active. Rushing around from obligation to obligation, compulsively checking my phone, email, text, social networking. Saying "yes" when I should've say "no". Working at home, working at work. And quickly, I became resentful. Angry.

Then I rehearsed all the work I do. And I stacked it up next to everyone else's work. Some people beat me, but I usually won. I'm busy. I'm a mom and a social worker and a pastor's wife, a friend and roommate and some other stuff. So I can win. But win what? What a sorry victory.

That's when I am all out Martha from that story of Jesus' two friends. The story goes that one afternoon when Jesus was visiting Mary and Martha, the ladies went separate ways. Martha went to the kitchen to prepare food for the crew. Mary stayed with Jesus. She really liked Him. She wasn't really thinking about whether or not He needed something to eat. She just didn't want to miss anything He said. She plunked herself right down near his toes and didn't move. Martha muttered to herself as she slaps lunchmeat on sandwich bread, a bitter dinner from a grumbling heart.  Accusing her sister of laziness, she clanks around hoping to be noticed. And then she can't take it anymore. 

 "Jesus, when are you going to tell Mary to come help me?"

And do you know what Jesus says? It's not even fair. 

"“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.f Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Worried about many things? Yea, Jesus. I am worried about many things. Do you want to know why? Because no one else will worry about them. Who is going to organize the children's ministry, start women's small groups, or cook the new mother's meals? Who is going to visit all the sick people in the hospital? Who is going to encourage my husband and raise my son? Who is going to do my laundry and clean my bathroom? You're right. I am worried about many things. But if I don't do this stuff, who will? It has to get done.

Hear the anger. It's a stacking game, a competition. I have to stay ahead of all the other busy people, prove my worth by eliminating white space in my schedule. Rest is not a legitimate way to spend time. People become a means to an end. No more motivated by love, rest and creativity, I struggle along in survival mode, sleep-deprived and wondering why I signed up for this life I've got.

Then comes the explosion. The anger that can't be contained because no one notices how dry and tired and angry I am, how taken for granted, how busy and important and overlooked I am. No one can see. No one respects me. And I hate them all for it.

Then comes the wrestling with God, the illness because it literally makes me sick (most of the time) out of sheer exhaustion. I dig out The Way of the Heart. I remember the value of prayer, silence and solitude. I confront the fact that my biggest enemy is me. That I am afraid to say "no" because I absolutely hate that look of disappointment in your eyes when I can't do something you think you need me to do. I hate the fact that I can still be manipulated and controlled by fear, and that I try to use shame to control others.

And I go back to Love. I remember Him, that He does not need all my work. He did not create me for labor but for friendship, for Love. Breathing resumes.

Then come apologies. The sincere "I'm sorrys" to God, to the people my anger stepped on. The journal-etched plans to never do this again. The confession to my women's group that I should have made two weeks ago when things really started to get bad.

And gentleness and slowness return for a while. Because at the end of the day, I'm just a girl. With relative comparison to eternity, 30 years makes me young, a novice at kindness and living patiently, in love, with grace and gentleness. The disparity between where I am and where I want to be is painful. But Jesus is gentle with me and He wants me to be gentle with myself too. And then I can be gentle with the other worn out souls around.

Some day soon I know I won't fight it. I'll accept that I'm just a baby at this life thing, a tiny helpless baby just riding along, secured on the broad shoulders of Papa God. Held far above chaos and pain, much safer than I realize, and so so so LOVED. And then I can just lean back and enjoy the ride. 

[Photo courtesy of Rose Wheat Photography]

No comments: