My recently turned three-year-old is decidedly a big boy. He no longer wants sippy cups (less to wash!) or help with his hair and clothes. He wants to be a big kid like his siblings. He has even started enjoying Bible story time before bed. Because of his enthusiasm for story-time with the other kids, we have put aside our Bible geared for older kiddos and have pulled out the My First Bible Stories. He loves to talk about the pictures (especially the snakes and fiery furnace) and listens as we read. It is such a blessing to hear the older kids retell the stories to their littlest brother.
Last week, we read the story of Martha and Mary. This particular version of the story was very clear that Martha's tone of voice was less than appealing and even boarded on the nagging and complaining side. And this was not complaining with thanksgiving but just plain ol' feeling sorry for herself complaining. Martha whined about all of her work and lack of help. I retold the story with an exaggerated whine-and-cheese voice to really drive the point home.
We discussed how Martha was so busy whining, and doing, and complaining, and being busy with busyness, that she missed the pleasure of the Lord. The pleasure of His smile. His voice. His comforting hand on the top of her head. His joy at seeing her at His feet. She missed it.
I asked the kids how Mary might have felt, how Martha might have felt, and most importantly, how Jesus might have felt. Their replies included: sad, lonely, frustrated, confused. One of the kids thought Mary would feel satisfied because she would get to share in Martha's good meal AND have Jesus all to herself.
Can anyone guess which of my children had that point of view?!
That same child says to my tired, haggard, and patience-worn-thin-face, "Mom? You're just like Martha. Always busy. Always ordering us around for school. Chores this. Chores that. Frustrated face here and frustrated voice there."
Whoa. Who asked for this conviction? From a 7 year old at 8:30 p.m.?
Another traitor, a.k.a my oldest daughter, pipes up, "Yeah, Mom, how come you never just sit?".
More conviction. Is this how they see me? Frustrated and whining about laundry, dishes, school, and all the other normal household stresses? Rushing here and there to complete a task with a grim line for a mouth?
"Did you leave your smile in your pocket, Mom" asks the 5 year old sweetheart. "No, darling. I'm just busy. And thinking. And busy thinking."
Is that what I want them to see in their mind's eye when I'm thought of? Is that what I want to teach as expected behavior?
Obviously, no. And, I will extend myself a little grace here. My personality is "Martha" all the way. I do things now and process them later. I find joy and fulfillment in serving others, doing for others, and ending a day with a crossed-off list. It's when the list was never touched or even written down that I become frustrated!
Moving forward . . . the Lord's use of a children's Bible story and my boldly spoken children to touch my heart was heard and felt. I've made a conscious effort to ask the Lord to clearly indicate where I need to stop and notice. Notice Him in the details of my day. Notice Him in the rare quiet fellowship of my children and even in their rambunctious laughter. To notice Him in the mess, the mess, the mess.
I am also asking Him to show me how He values me as a Martha and how to grow me more Mary-like. And I am ever so more thankful that He uses my children to convict me. Over and over again. Who knew God gave me children to keep me humble?!
O Christ, do not give me tasks equal to my powers,
but give me powers equal to my tasks,
for I want to be stretched by things too great for me.
I want to grow through the greatness of my tasks,
but I shall need your help for the growing.
E. Stanley Jones