As my daughter was coloring on the living room floor, she looked up at me and asked, “Momma, tan I haf some apple juice, pwease?”
“Sure, sweet girl. I’ll go get you some.”
On my way to the kitchen, I noticed a wet diaper laying on the floor that hadn’t made it to a trash can. So I picked it up and headed towards the kitchen.
As I tossed it in the trash, I noticed the can was almost full, so I decided to grab the bathroom trash cans to empty into the kitchen trash can, so I could take it all out. You know, optimize the empty space in the bag before sealing it.
After I emptied the contents of the little cans into the big one, I tied up the bag and sat it aside. Then I noticed some kind of sticky orange substance smeared across the lower cabinet door. Sticky and orange? What do we even own that is sticky and orange!?
What. Is. That.
I walked over to the sink to grab a rag and realized I would have to go fish for it in the murky dishwater because the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes.
Instead of simply shifting around the dishes, I decided to do the responsible thing and load them in the dishwasher. I eventually found the dishcloth at the bottom of the green swamp, along with 3 others that smelled horrible.
I grabbed them, took them to the washing machine & began sorting the clothes and towels. You know, to optimize this sour dishrag load.
I designated piles into darks, lights and towels.
Feeling accomplished, I made my way to the bedroom to start folding some clothes.
And then a few minutes later…a tiny, parched voice from the living room…”Momma? Apple juice? Pwease?”
My patient, dehydrated, little thing.
I maneuvered my way around multiple piles of laundry in the hallway. When I walked into the kitchen to finish the task I had originally set out to do, I realized I was surrounded by semi-finished tasks instead.
Garbage bag laying over here. Mystery orange goo over there. Opened dishwasher waiting to be started.
Our culture has learned to juggle more things at one time than any circus performer ever has. Chairs, chainsaws and bowling pins set aflame? That’s child’s play. How about raising children, investing in a marriage, keeping the house from collapsing, being intentional with relationships, completing projects on time, fulfilling church commitments and doing everything in between?
Downtime is now defined as the moments I can pack the little things into. Like when I can throw a load of laundry in the wash, make a phone call, wipe down a bathroom, vacuum the house or shower.
I mark one thing off my to-do list and there are 4 more to add to it.
I find myself rushing. All the time.
It is stressful. And it is e x h a u s t i n g .
I can try to blame the constant rushing (and being late) on having to coordinate kiddos’ routines or getting an entire family out the door…on time…with clothes on.
But really, I don’t think having children changed that aspect too dramatically for me. I’ve been jam-packing and rushing most of my life. Which almost always leads to me being late. There are only so many little things you can cram into a certain amount of time before the entire thing explodes in your face.
I’m sure you probably know the story of Mary and Martha. I’ve heard that story since I was very young.
Poor Martha. She got a bad rap. I really feel for her. You know she was just trying to get stuff done. Dinner. Cleaning.
Jesus, the Savior of the world, was in her house for goodness sakes! I mean, if Jesus was staying in my house, I’d want everything to be perfect too! I’d go so far as to actually clean out from under the stove and fridge instead of kicking all the crumbs underneath them. Which some people do…I’ve heard.
I believe Martha was busy doing good things, things that really did need to get done that day. She was juggling all this stuff alone, working herself up. And you know she was grumbling in her mind. I sure would have been.
“Oh no, Mary. You just sit there and enjoy Jesus. I’m sure dinner will make itself. And the dishes will wash themselves too. You may not mind serving Christ mac n’ cheese on paper plates, but I do. So I’ll do all the work. Just sit there and relax, you annoying free little spirit you.”
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed 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 up 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, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Mary sat and listened.
Martha served and was distracted.
I heard this analogy a couple years ago and it’s as true now as it was then:
Imagine a bunch of cups in front of you that represent the different areas of your life that take your time and energy. Your marriage, your children, church commitments, cleaning the house, your projects, your workplace, etc.
Having a balanced life doesn’t mean that every cup is filled up the same amount. It means that you take 2 or 3 of the most important and fill them up.
The rest of the cups may have just a little, or even nothing, in them. You may have to step away from some commitments in order to keep the most important things and people in your life filled up.
And the most important cup of all is the empty one we come to Jesus with every single day.
Martha’s cup may have been clean, but Mary’s cup was full.
What I am learning is that a clean house, an empty sink and perfectly folded clothes will not last. The house will get disorganized, the sink will fill up with dirty dishes and the loads of laundry will once again pile up no matter how much I try to keep up with them.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus is what matters. That is what lasts. If my relationship with Him isn’t my top priority, everything else will become unbalanced because they’re not in the correct order.
Whether your busy-ness comes from being a mommy, some other demanding job or just life itself, sit at the feet of Jesus before you get up to wash the dishes. He loves it when we do and promises to give us “that which will not be taken away.”