Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Mary/Martha Tug of War {Catanduva 2015: Part 2}

Emotionally drained from having been thrown into the fire of evangelizing the day before and feeling somewhat unsuccessful at that, she got up the next morning, dressed in her $5 Goodwill jeans and old gray t-shirt, and determined she would work on the church building that day.

However, those familiar feelings of inadequacy consumed her as she walked around the building site looking for something to do. Not sure of where to jump in, she filled the downtime by taking pictures of everyone else working. Everyone busy. Everyone seeming to have a purpose.

She had traveled halfway across the globe to be a part of this so if she wasn't busy, she or others might question her purpose for being there (or send her out to evangelize - yes, she may have been hiding out that day). But in the end, her fear of failure and not wanting to impose herself on those who didn't seem to need any help kept her desire to work on the building in check. She told herself to be content to keep record of other's endeavors, knowing they would be grateful to see their efforts documented. But still she ached to be assigned a task.

Then finally! Someone asked her to do something. She had a purpose. She would be busy for Jesus today and everybody would see it! (hello pride...) But no sooner had she started working on this project, than she was flocked by others also looking for something to do and a need to feel useful. They asked to help, and soon she felt she should delegate the project to them and walk away.

It was emotionally difficult. She struggled with letting go of the ownership she had already taken for the project and wanting credit for doing something that day vs. giving the project away to others that were obviously feeling the same way she had felt all morning.


What a horrible feeling. She wanted to cry so she hid out behind the back buildings. She took out her cell phone, called her husband, and cried on his virtual shoulder. He assured her that she had a purpose, that her traveling there would not be in vain. They talked about what her gifts were, and how she had already started using them. They talked about her ongoing struggle between her desire to be in the limelight and get noticed and credit versus her competing desire to hide in the background and just be a support system to others.

So eventually she changed her attitude. Instead of "doing" for Jesus, she would sit at his feet. She would just be there. She would absorb the experience through others. She would not seek out a job. She would support and document everyone's work. She would listen to their excitement and frustrations. She would encourage their efforts. She would smile when not feeling like smiling. She would submit her will and expectations for that day to perhaps what God willed for her instead.

And she found rest. And joy.

The remainder of the afternoon turned out to be one of the most fun and fulfilling days of the week. She made new friends. She talked, giggled and joked while trying to learn and understand Portuguese. She was just present, listening, smiling, and taking in the experience. She was even offered several opportunities to learn some of the building skills even though her efforts did not achieve the desired results. Everyone was lighthearted. Everyone laughed. She had won the tug of war in her heart today.

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42 MSG

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