Last Christmas I was a brand new mom. I was trying to figure out how to juggle caring for a tiny infant amidst the dust and mess of a basement remodel. Yeah…that wasn’t good timing. Growing up, I was zombie whenever I got 6 hours of sleep or less, so I was trying to figure out how I was going to survive life with a severe, chronic case of lack of sleep. I was pushing my body to do what I thought it should and to live as “normal” despite not knowing what recovery would be like. I loved being a mom. It was then and still is the greatest thing ever! But sometimes I got overwhelmed by everything.
So, when Christmas came around, I decided that my gift to honor Christ that Christmas season was to strive all year to be more like Mary. In Luke Chapter 10 of the King James Bible we read this story:
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Like Mary, Focus on What’s Most Important
I simply love that reminder. It is good to clean the house. It is good to work on hobbies, to meet friends, and to work on projects. It is good to do many things. But, are we letting these things distract us from what is best, or “needful” as Christ said?
I have found that when I let my messy house slide I feel more at peace. I’m focused on my baby instead of feeling irritated about the dirty dishes. I have found that I feel happier when I start out my day with a conscious effort to focus on what matters most to me instead of being sucked into the world of social media or my to-do list.
When I was a teenager I saw the rock and sand object lesson and it made such an impression on me that I’ve never forgotten it. If you fill a jar with rocks first (what’s really important) then there’s room for all the sand to fill in the cracks. If you fill it with sand first (what isn’t as important or not important at all) then the rocks don’t fit. It’s a good reminder to me that I don’t have to throw away my desires for a clean house or that I can’t work on other projects or hobbies when my baby is awake. Rather, it’s a reminder life is happier when our first focus is on what is really important to us. That includes family.
Use All Your Attention
One great way to focus on what matters most is to engage in it with our whole attention. Psychologists like to call this being mindful. I can “watch” my baby play while I’m scrolling through Facebook or washing the dishes. Or, I can really, truly watch my baby play for 5 or 10 minutes. This is so rewarding when I concentrate and focus 100% instead of letting my mind wander over what to buy at the grocery store or how come so-and-so said that to you-know-who. I have found that when I engage whole-heartedly then I not only enjoy it more, but I feel more at peace about cleaning up, or even looking at Facebook later. I think that’s because I prioritized. I let the rocks go in first.
Sometimes the rocks will be cleaning the dishes. Of course, it’s really important to not live in a place that stinks from rotting food and overflowing dishes every day. The whole point is making our decisions and actions intentional and putting chores in the place they’re supposed to be in.
Christ Loves our Efforts, Just Like Martha
Christ’s rebuke to Martha when she was concerned about serving alone was so understanding and loving, I think. He understood all of the different things Martha had to juggle. He was reminding her of a better way. There’s more to the story of the interaction between Martha and Christ. In John 11, we learn that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”
Like Martha, Jesus loves moms and dads. Mommy guilt is such a huge problem in our society. We want so much to be the best mother we can to our children and meet all of their needs. So, when we make mistakes or don’t feel like we focused on what mattered most that day, it is easy to feel guilty and ashamed. At least it is for me. So, I love this additional scripture verse about Jesus and Martha. No matter what, we are loved by our Lord, Jesus Christ. He loves our efforts to parent. He recognizes that we are trying. And, He loves us even when we make mistakes and errors as parents. His forgiveness when we repent is further proof of His love.
So, when mommy-guilt attacks me I try to remember that Jesus loved Martha, and He loves me. My husband often tells me I’m doing much good although I don’t sit and think about it, and I think that’s true of most parents. Moms and dads are usually doing so much more than they realize. Their efforts are noticed by at least God, and probably a lot of other people.
And although it isn’t from the bible, I love Anne’s philosophy from Anne of Green Gables. “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.” If I feel like I didn’t follow the counsel that Christ gave Martha, then I can try again tomorrow. I am still trying to figure out how to be a mom. Sometimes I still get overwhelmed. I probably will until the day I die. But, these Bible verses have certainly helped me to breathe, relax, and remember what Christ told Martha and moms in the present day.