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Sometimes we’re so busy dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s that we miss… IT.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I agonize over the details. I proofread my proofreads. I like predictability and being in control. I feel anxious when the house is untidy, when there are dishes stacked in the sink, when the mountain of dirty laundry never disappears, when my to-do list is miles and miles long and I haven’t even begun to check it off.
Yep, I’m a big i dotter and t crosser.
I’m actually less of a perfectionist now than I used to be— imagine that! Enter my amazing husband of almost 12 years who has always had an unpredictable work schedule, and who by his own nature changes plans at the drop of a hat. We are often polar opposites of each other, which has caused me to become much more flexible over the years.
Enter my two precious— and very active— boys who would rather play with mommy than see her do dishes or laundry or work on the computer. Enter exhaustion and aging (ahem, I mean maturity and wisdom) and the realization that, “I can’t do everything.” “I’m not Super Mom or Superwoman.”
We’re not expected to be.
In Luke 10:38-42, Martha thought she had to be the perfect hostess. She busied herself with making a delicious meal and making sure Jesus felt comfortable in her home. She worried and fretted over the little details, and she missed being in Christ’s presence, which her sister Mary fully embraced. Dishes and food preparations were the last thing on Mary’s mind; she was completely engrossed with Jesus and wanted to spend every single minute with Him, and she did.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Martha had a servant’s heart, and someone did need to make all the preparations that she did, but it cost her a deeper and more meaningful conversation with her Lord. Jesus didn’t care about eating a fancy three-course meal; a PB&J would have been just fine. What He really craved was time with Martha.
What He really craves is time with us.
Are you a Martha or a Mary? Maybe a bit of both? The world needs both. No matter whom you identify yourself with, Jesus wants a relationship with both of those women. And I say “women” because of the Bible reference, but I’m addressing men here too.
There’s nothing wrong with being a Martha. There’s nothing wrong with fretting over the details, keeping a clean and inviting home, and taking pride in our best work. But we also need to be careful to not let it misplace our priorities. To not let it consume us and cause us anxiety.
God didn’t intend for us to be anxious. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6.
He didn’t intend for us to compete with the Jones’ and to adhere to a strict routine of societal “to do’s”. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
God wants us to REST at His feet, like Mary did, and to enjoy His blessings.
So if you’re a Martha, like I usually am, it’s ok to “let go” every now and then, so you can focus on what’s truly important. It’s ok to forget about the laundry for a day (or two or three) or to leave the dishes in the sink sometimes. It’s ok to serve “frozen box-to-oven” dinners for your family— and on paper plates! I’m all about paper plates these days!
It’s ok to dress the kids in mismatching outfits (a.k.a., let them dress themselves) or to skip the fancy photoshoot Christmas cards this year. It’s ok that the flowers in your yard look a little neglected or that the inside of your home doesn’t meet Fixer Upper standards.
It’s ok to buy a dessert from the store for the neighborhood potluck instead of making it from scratch. It’s ok to not sign up for that extracurricular activity that “everyone else” is doing— after all, it’s extra right?
It’s ok to say, “No.” It’s ok to rest and carve out some down-time for yourself and your family.
It’s also ok to ask for help. Ask Mary. Ask your spouse, your older kids, your friends, or even hire help if you can afford it.
It’s ok. Repeat after me, “It’s … Ok.”
Take a deep breath and let go. Add some Mary to your life. Let God take control. Yes, we should still serve Him and others wholeheartedly. Yes, we should still strive to maintain an inviting home and seek out friendships and giving opportunities, but God doesn’t expect us to do it perfectly nor all the time. He wants us to rest as well.
Our service should not cause us anxiety, but rather it should fill us with JOY.
“That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3: 29-30.
God completes us. Not a perfect career, social network, or ministry. Not a perfect house, yard, or wardrobe. God is all we need. It’s not about us. It’s about Him.
Write down a list of your top priorities, not society’s priorities, but yours and God’s. Focus on those. You don’t want to be too distracted by the world’s expectations and miss IT. Your family. Time with God. Resting at His feet. Whatever your IT may be… embrace it.
The dotted i’s and crossed t’s can wait.