Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."I love this passage so stinking much. Martha and Mary, what a dynamic duo. Also, Mary Magdalene may or may not be my confirmation saint so I have a special connection with all of her appearances in the scriptures. I'm reading a book right now called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life, and am learning so much about what it means to be a woman in today's world and to be radically in love with the Lord, all at the same time (yes, the two can co-exist!). This passage may be familiar to some of us, but every time I read it something new sticks out to me, or it calls me out to a higher standard, one I'm often afraid to strive for.
"...one thing is needful."
Yesterday I had a really interesting conversation about prayer and parenting. I was asked how I plan on spending time silently praying someday when I've got my own children and my own household to run. I have thought about this a great deal actually, and it is very important that I recognize how blessed I am to have this opportunity with FOCUS to have a Holy Hour built right into my daily life--what a treat! I've heard stories about some moms who wake up from 2-3 am and pray a holy hour when the ones they love are fast asleep. I'm not sure this is something sustainable for me, or something that I'll be called to do, but I'm praying that if that is the only time I'll have in silence with the Lord, that I will not be too selfish to take it.
Let's think about it this way, would God ever tell you to not talk to him today to go take care of your family? Probably not. He desires you first and foremost: before your husband or wife does, before your children do, before anybody else could even consider desiring your heart. He created that heart, and the timeless words of St. Augustine ring so true:
"You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."Yes, we have a responsibility to our family and absolutely must take care of them, but we first must recognize where that family came from, and that God has entrusted us with a spouse and children.
This may be something that as a wife and mother is hard to think about, but I deal with the same thing with the women I disciple. This is one of the reasons that I struggle so much with taking alone time: I feel that if I, Kelsey Kaufman, do not help them, then nobody will, and it will be all my fault that I was a bad missionary, a bad friend, a bad daughter (of the big G). There's also a temptation to do that as a mother or father. "If I don't take care of their every need, then nobody will and it'll be all my fault and I'll be a bad wife, a bad mother and a bad daughter (of the big G)"... and on and on it goes. But the reality that we so often forget, is that having faith is so radically important. Faith that the needs of the ones we love will be met if we abandon ourselves to the Father. He WILL take care of the ones we love: his love for us simply keeps us alive each day! So when I ask myself, how can I make time for prayer when I have a household to run and mouths to feed, what I should really be asking is, how can I not make time for prayer when I have a household to run and mouths to feed? God has entrusted me with this household, with these souls dependent upon a mother (or father), and in order to best take care of them, I need to make sure I'm stepping aside and allowing Jesus to play his part, too. Sure, I might be the one to clean up after them when they spill ice cream all over the floor, and I'll be the one to change their disgusting diapers 15 times a day, but if as parents we (the royal "we," I recognize I'm not quite here yet) do not bring our children to knowledge of the very personal love Jesus has for each one of them, then we aren't fully doing our job. And if I am not doing that, it's probably because I personally have not been shown that nor know of the deep and intimate love Jesus Christ has for me.
This brings the conversation full circle, back to point A: in order to give of myself, I need to first give myself wholly and entirely to the Lord, get to know Him and actively seek His Holy Will for my life, in the same way that Mary did as she sat at the feet of Jesus. She completely abandoned herself to him in that moment, and yes, while there were still things that needed to get done (so many that in fact Martha had the audacity to command Jesus to have Mary help her! That's bold.) Mary recognized the greater need. As Jesus said, "one thing is needful." The need to spend time simply in his presence, soak him in and begin to understand that fostering that relationship trumps any duty in the kitchen. First knowing and communing with the Lord will bring balance to our lives and if we fail to spend time doing this, then the rest of our lives can quickly become disordered and we end up only giving ourselves and what we can do to and for others, when what they really need is Jesus Christ. I pray to have the courage to spend time at the feet of Jesus in the same way that Mary did in this passage, and that we can all make it more of a priority in our lives. Just imagine the way our families, neighborhoods, cities and the whole of society would change if we took more time to do this!
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.