It was a hot summer day at the end of a stressful month. Already June, we had missed our May trip north to park our camping trailer for the summer months. Usually a trip we anticipate with the excitement of an eight-year old waiting for Christmas morn, today it felt like a chore. I was only a few months into a new and demanding job, that while I loved, was an adjustment for our entire family. At the beginning of May we lost our beloved family matriarch, my mother-in-law. A large family and an even larger loss, my husband named executor of the family trust, May had been one stressful month.
And then I saw it. At first glance, just another post on Facebook. Posted by a friend from WINGS, our women’s group at church. It simply read:
My To Do List:
Smile at strangers
Eat ice cream
Count my blessings
Love some more
It hit me like a ton of bricks. My first thought was, “Wouldn’t it be great if that could be my to do list?” Then I wondered, “Do people really act on these to do lists, or are they just a nice thing to post?” Finally I thought, “Why not?”
As women we have so much to do. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a grandmother, an auntie, a sister, a friend, a BFF , an employee, a boss, a child of God’s and oh yeah ………ME. Each of these roles in my life comes with its own list of “To Dos.” Then you add in the holidays and seasons. Yikes, I’m getting tired thinking about it.
I pulled up the task list in my phone and read the errands for the day: Drop off dry cleaning, submit expense report, draft business strategy for increasing hardware sales, pick up milk on way home.
Now I should tell you, I am an extreme Martha personality. You know the story, Jesus is dining with friends and Martha is busy cooking, cleaning, preparing and serving. And there is Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his every word. Martha is angered. And Jesus tells her that she is fretting over many things and that Mary has chosen the better part. Luke 10:39
This is in direct conflict with our American culture. It is in direct conflict with who I am as a person. I am Martha. I see the things that need to be done, and I get busy. This characteristic has served me well. I am a results-oriented woman who has enjoyed success in my career thanks to my “getting things done.” So every time I hear this story, I react like Martha. “Seriously, Jesus? How the heck is that fair? Tell Mary to help.” One morning I am sitting in Mass and Luke 10:39 is read and our pastor says, “Jesus wasn’t saying we shouldn’t work. Jesus was saying that God’s work will get done, we don’t have to fret about it. He was saying there is a time to listen to Jesus. Take the time.”
So I moved my tasks to another day and copied Michelle’s To Do List into my phone. I had decided that it is time for me to see what it is like to be Mary.
At first my husband rolled his eyes at me when I announced that we had a lot on our to do list and read the list to him. But as I crossed each item off my list, funny things began to happen. As we pulled out of the driveway for our trip up north, we tackled item #1, Sing. As a family we took turns picking songs to sing. What a great way to start our day! That certainly lightened the mood. Next we counted our blessings. This was fun as each of us took turns thinking of blessings and seeing how many we could count. I began to feel blessed and de-stressed. It wasn’t long before even my husband was enjoying the list. He was mildly excited about learning something new. After three years of owning our truck, we finally learned what the red blinking dot on our rearview mirror meant (it was pretty cool too.) He really became engaged in the list when I announced it was time to eat ice cream. Little Alli joined in the fun as we all began to look for opportunities to extend kindness and smile at strangers. Alli enjoyed holding the door for people, saying hi and smiling. The entire mood of our day lifted as our priorities shifted. As we got down to only a few items, I admit, I downloaded an app on my phone called “funny jokes” and read them aloud until we were all laughing. What a blessed day; laughing, smiling at strangers, helping others and sharing all these important things as a family.
Thank you Michelle for the list. Thank you Mary for knowing when the important thing is to just sit and let Jesus speak to you. Thank you Jesus for a blessed, blessed day.
Find time to be Mary. Focus on what is truly important.