Do you ever feel like there’s too much on your plate? The stress is getting to you and sometimes even making you snippy with others?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our propensity to judge others – to look at another person’s decisions, character traits, and even how they choose to apply inspiration – and judge them — especially when we’re stressed.
I learned a lot about not judging and about perspectives while researching an 80-year-old mystery for my novel, An Uncertain Justice, To write the book, I studied various accounts of a murder. They were from newspapers, books, family records, and personal recollections. Interestingly, most saw the event differently. In endeavoring to be as accurate as possible, I assumed that each person who gave an account was telling the truth as they remembered it.
I did not assume that one person was lying or another exaggerating, but only that they all were somehow telling the truth as they perceived it. This enabled me to put together a richer story, and I believe, solve a mystery. I began to understand that truth is a composite of perspectives.
We all look at life through our own lens of life experiences, backgrounds and beliefs. We filter everything we see and experience through those lenses. That includes how we look at other people’s actions.
In Luke 10:38-42, there’s an account of Jesus visiting Martha and her sister Mary. In the account Martha is “cumbered about much serving.” In other words, Martha is stressed out with all the tasks on her plate. She’s slaving over a hot stove, trying to make the house presentable for the Master, and doing all she knows how to do to serve Him.
While she’s doing this, Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach her about the gospel. This is a rare opportunity for women of the day. Women of that period were not allowed to discuss religious matters with men.
At some point, Martha comes to Jesus and says, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.”
Jesus answers 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.”
Instead of judging Martha or Mary in this incident, what if we see the truth of it as Jesus is seeing it? He knows both their hearts. Time and again, we read in the Bible where Jesus perceives people’s thoughts. He knows what both Martha and Mary are thinking. He’s seeing that Martha is going above and beyond to do everything she knows how to do. He sees that this is making her stressed and worried – “troubled.” He sees that Mary is taking advantage of a rare opportunity to sit at His feet and learn about the things of eternity.
He brings to Martha’s attention that she has a choice. She doesn’t “have” to stress over dinner. She doesn’t “have” to make the house perfect. She’s chosen to do those things, while Mary has chosen to be at the Master’s feet. He’s pointing out that the dinner will be eaten and the house will get dirty again, but it’s not every day you can sit at the feet of the Creator of worlds and learn from Him personally. That experience can never be taken away from Mary.
It’s interesting to note that in her state of stress, Martha has shifted to judgment. We all tend to do this. How many times have you been left to clean up a mess and gotten irritated that no one is helping you? I know I have!
In her stressed state, Martha is judging Mary as lazy. She’s also putting herself on a pedestal as a hard worker, a martyr who has to do so much. Are you noticing the “do” versus “be” words in this story? Martha is convinced that she has to be doing while Mary is content in simply being at the Master’s feet.
I’ve been like Martha a good portion of my life. Oh, I’m not some dutiful immaculate housekeeper by any stretch! But I’ve been a workaholic. I’ve felt that unless I’m doing something, I’m not valuable as a person. I had to realize two things.
- First, I have a choice. I didn’t have to do all the things I chose to do. They didn’t make me a better person, and God didn’t require them of me.
- Second, I had to understand that being who God created me to be is more important than doing a bunch of stuff.
Once I really got these two things, I finally found peace and joyful abundance. Busy isn’t always better. Most of the time it’s masking the fact that we’re not being who we were born to be! We’re so busy doing things, we never take the time to step back, reflect and truly evaluate what’s going to last!
When you finally understand who you are at the core — more than your gifts and your talents – but the very essence of who God created you to be, stress melts away. Life becomes joyful, effortless and abundant!
I challenge you, to re-evaluate all the things you think you “have to do.” Do you really have to do them? How would spending more time filling your cup, feeding your spirit, and connecting with God be choosing the better part that would never be taken away from you?
If you’re interested in living with less stress and more joy, please join me April 20-23, 2010 in Zion’s National Park for one of the most life-transforming weeks of your life. Experience the essence of who you are as a daughter of God, in a place where His hand is evident in every mountain peak and canyon. Create life-long relationships with other women who will support, encourage and celebrate the beauty in you! Learn more about this Christian women’s retreat today.