Dear Pope Francis,
Last week, neither Meredith or I posted a single thing, and I’m already a day late in posting this. We’ve both been MIA over the last couple of weeks. When we finally got a chance to catch up last week, the one thing I realized is just how busy we both are! I am currently holding down a few odd jobs while going to school full time. Last night, as I looked at my to do list, I had this overwhelming sense that I am turning into Martha (from the Gospel of Luke, 10:38-42).
I have a natural Martha-disposition. I do things for people. I take great pride in the fact that people can ask me to do things because they know I will get it done. One of the clichéd responses I get when I tell people everything I’m doing is that I need to learn how to say ‘no’. That’s true, sometimes.
Deeper than learning to say ‘no’, is a challenge. Martha’s sister Mary issues me a challenge every time I identify with Martha. Mary challenges me to sit and listen, not only to God in prayer, but to everyone around me. Mary challenges me to sit and be with people, whether I am at school socializing at lunchtime, or whether I am waiting for the slower person to get off the subway ahead of me. I don’t have to talk to people, but to be with them is to be patient with them, to listen to them if they want to talk, and most simply, to realize that crossing things off my to-do list does not trump everything else.
When I fall into this Martha-state I feel as though my soul is being sucked out. Focusing too much on my to-do list prevents me from being with people the way I want to be: being able to listen when someone is struggling, being able to enjoy myself at a community gathering, or simply taking the time to hold the door for the person walking behind me. Focusing too much on my to-do list leaves me cranky, and focused on what everyone is doing to me. This is not generally the way I am, or how I strive to live me life.
Nevertheless, living this way sucks the very joy from my soul, it sucks out the optimism and sometimes, when I’m really in Martha-mode, I lose sight of the big picture, why I’m actually studying, working the odd jobs, and volunteering. These things become the end in themselves: finish the reading as fast as I can so I can get on to the next thing, write this post quickly, so I can get started on Friday’s. Instead, Mary’s challenge asks me to find a new goal, which really isn’t new at all. Mary challenges me to sit and be with God in everything I do, and to realize that being with Him is the goal, whether that’s being patient with the people He created, or offering my study and volunteering as prayer. When I choose this, I know I’m choosing the better thing.
Trying to live this challenge,