I had always wanted to “catch up” or move ahead in various aspects of my life: laundry, housekeeping, cooking, Bible reading, devotions, my book-reading stash, preparation for teaching, writing goals, visiting the sick and lonely. . . Obviously this list is in no particular order, but I generally looked after the squeakiest wheel, rather than setting priorities. I didn’t know how to say, “No," when asked to do a job. Maybe I wasn’t asking God earnestly enough to help me in making decisions.
Conversations with Elderly Neighbour
One August day, while visiting outside with our elderly neighbour, Alex, and watching the kids play, I expressed angst about wanting everything ship-shape before going back to part-time teaching in September. I also didn’t want to short-change the kids with story time, family outings, clean clothes or healthy meals.
Relying on a sympathetic ear from Alex, I said, “I don’t know how I’ll ever catch up with everything before I go back to work.
Without hesitation, he replied, “I don’t think you’re supposed to.”
Emily Carr’s Perspective
Emily Carr of Canada’s Group of Seven is quoted to have said, “Lord, may I never catch up before I die. Struggling financially, she ran a boarding house and taught art to support her life as a painter.
Her wisdom rested with me, but I didn’t take it to heart. My perfectionist strivings prevented my seeing the beauty in what she said, in always having another idea or project ahead of her.
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
I’ve written before about my midlife discovery of Joanne Weaver’s book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I used to think--dare I say it--that Jesus had been hard on Martha who was trying to prepare a fabulous meal for him and his disciples. I know I would have been flustered in a similar situation with no help from my sister. I benefited greatly by reading Weaver’s book, but I still didn’t put into practice the lesson that visiting with Jesus is more important than all our busyness.
Weaver’s book title now reminds me that we are in a Martha world where lots is expected of us. We still need, however, to live like Mary and spend time with our Lord. We don’t need the fancy dinners and the perfect houses. More importantly, we need to spend time with Jesus and his friends, be they tax collectors, sinners, or Samaritans.
What Is Enough?
Earlier this year, I read, digested, underlined in pencil, and starred much of Wayne Muller’s book: a life of being, having, and doing enough. Muller, as a therapist, public speaker, minister and bestselling author, encounters people from all walks of life. In doing so, he discovered that
“. . . they each in their own way feel victim to a relentless assault of increasing expectations, activities, demands, and accomplishments that overwhelms any spaciousness or ease in their daily lives.”
I know we put pressures on ourselves, but why do so many of us feel overwhelmed. Why is it that what we feel is required of us seems to "transcend any realistic human scale or possibility”? The folks Muller has talked to admit that, “. . . The sheer pace and volume of their lives seems to corrode whatever joy, wonder, nourishment, or delight they may find in simply doing their best.”
I’m not sure if I came across the term “The Micah Mandate” in Wayne Muller’s book or if I read it elsewhere, but I know that Muller does make reference to Micah 6:8 that tells us in simple terms what God actually requires us to do.
|Free Image from bibleversestogo.com|
Do you suppose God was suggesting, through Micah, that we have mercy on ourselves as well as on our fellow man? God has also commanded: “Be still and know that I am your God.” (Psalm 46:10) That is how we can walk humbly with our God and how we can learn of his love and of how we are “enough.” That is all the “catching up” I need to do. Thank you, Dear God.