As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Monday, July 22, 2013

Martha's sacrifice

This weekend the gospel was the reading about Mary and Martha which, like most people, I've heard many times.  I think every woman (certainly every mother) can relate to the message the Lord is proposing - don't let the daily grind do you in.  Relationships are more important than chores, find Jesus in front of you.  Oh Martha, how could you be so silly?  Just rest a bit.

Listening to the homily this weekend made me look at this story a little different.  Our priest talked about comfort, specifically that hospitality often requires us to be uncomfortable.  And it made me think of last summer, how many times people would show up at our house unplanned, and how grateful I was after such a long time without regular companionship, of friends not simply when it was convenient for them, but who were really invested in me and made the effort to drop by.  I remember a few times wanting to crawl under a rock thinking that my house was so messy, but vowed that I always wanted my home to be an open one, where people could feel free to drop by unannounced and that I would value their friendship over a clean house. It didn't feel at all comfortable to be doing that, it was a conversion.  Something God was asking me to hand over to Him.

I always thought that Martha, once she actually stopped to sit in the Lord's presence, that she relaxed.  It never occurred to me that maybe she wasn't comfortable, that it was a real sacrifice for her to walk away from what she was doing.  She knew that when she was finished, her tasks would still be waiting for her.  She wasn't indulging anything, or trading anything.  Jesus was asking her to make a sacrifice - one that brought a greater good, but a sacrifice nonetheless.  And this is the way the Lord works in our lives.  Any greater good needs to come with sacrifice.  For a busy Mom, for Martha, that sacrifice is our control.  And that's no easy thing.

When I think about where I was last year vs. this year, what strikes me is how little control I have.  This time last year I was baking up a storm, making all my own bread and snacks for the kids, attending family camp, generally keeping things in order.  This year at four weeks post surgery I am still largely limited in the amount of things I can do around the house (only for the next couple of weeks though), very dependant on the people around me, and we missed family camp for the first time in five years. I have also had persistent issues nursing my daughter for the last two months, making something that should be so natural for me into such a work.  And while I've been learning so much about taking one thing at a time during all these small trials (which I am the first to admit are not so huge as they perhaps seem to me), and there has been good, it has not been comfortable.  Even when I submit willingly, when I hand over what I know the Lord is asking of me without reservation, there is still unrest.  Which I suppose is what makes the good something worth fighting for.

I relate to Martha in a whole new way this year.  And I pray that like her, I will always be able to welcome Christ in my midst.  To turn to Him even when it's not easy, even when I am distracted, even when it means giving up control in all the areas that make me feel like a better wife and mother.  May I always look to Him first, and know that I will only reach the fullness of my call when I take my identity with Him, and take each step, however uncertain, with His gentle direction.

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