Back when I was practicing law (and before I had children), one of my female colleagues had a friend who was a stay-at-home mom. From time to time this stay-at-home mom would exclaim to my colleague, “I’m just so busy! I have so much going on!”
I can vividly recall standing in an office with a few other female lawyers and mocking that woman.
“What on earth is possibly making her so busy?!” we jeered, contemplating our own brutal sixty-plus hour work week. “What is she doing? Playing tennis and volunteering at her kid’s preschool? She needs a reality check.”
Her claims seemed patently absurd to a group of young overworked attorneys. But today, as I stare at my old fashioned paper planner, covered in ink scribbles marking play dates, doctor visits, soccer practices, exercise classes, science fairs, lunch dates, supper clubs, AWANA club, teaching Sunday school, leading bible study, and preschool volunteer obligations (all in this week alone), I find myself in the peculiar position of being the very woman I mocked.
Busyness has a powerful pull. And if I’m not careful, my life will pass me by in a hyper-scheduled, distracted blur. It doesn’t matter if it’s due to a demanding career or my life as a stay-at-home mom. I will fill up my time.
But consider the story of the sisters Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42:
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.
This passage of Scripture contains a warning about busyness. Martha was busy. And the things she was busy doing were good things. She was “distracted with much serving,” attending to the needs of the people visiting her home.
When I was a young lawyer, I had a good job doing sophisticated work. And now as a stay-at-home mom, it’s good things like volunteering and teaching that keep me busy. But what is the cost of my busyness?
For Martha, the cost was missing the opportunity to sit at the very feet of Jesus and learn from his teaching. God in flesh was in her living room and she was too distracted preparing the antipasta tray to be bothered. In fact, she complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t busy along with her!
But how often am I like Martha? How often do I deceive myself – believing I am serving others, when in fact I am so often serving myself through my own prideful works? How often am I distracted by my own busyness when Jesus wants me to choose the good portion. Yes, God wants me to serve – but he wants me to serve him – by being transfixed by Christ.
I want to choose the good portion. Please help me stop when you want me to stop, rest when you want me to rest, and sit at your feet daily, immersed in your Word, submitting my heart to your will. I don’t want my life to pass me by in a hyper-scheduled blur. Please give me a listening, worshipful spirit. Please help me resist the pull of busyness.
In Jesus’ name,