Earlier this week, I posted a transcript of a talk I gave recently on being a Martha (link). After posting it, I thought perhaps I should follow up with a post about some things I’m trying to help keep me focused and redirect me when I do lose focus. Here are just a few things.
Lay Down My Burdens
In Hebrews 12:1, the author states to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (ESV). God never meant for us to carry more than our own load. His goal rests solely in us seeking him and finishing the race with and in Him! I often use this analogy.
I used to have a Chevy ½ ton truck and my husband had a Chevy 1 ton truck. My truck could carry only half the load my husband’s truck could carry. When I tried to carry more in the truck, my gas mileage went down, the engine struggled, and the suspension sagged. If I had continually carried too much, I would eventually have a broken truck. Sometimes I think I’m a ½ ton truck that can carry a 1-ton load. It doesn’t work and I’ve had to make some major repairs over the years.
Because my natural tendency is to say yes, I have had to learn and continue to struggle with never saying yes right away, and sometimes I have even had to return to someone and say, I can’t fulfill my obligation. By checking my load before I say yes, I am less likely to need to seek grace later. However, I have learned that if I do, it’s still okay–God’s grace covers that.
Pruning My Garden
I used to have a large garden in my backyard. I did really good the first two years I planted the garden. Then, slowly but surely, life got busy. I kept trying to plant the garden, but every year I ended up with more weeds and less produce. One year, the weeds were taller than the plants and the tomatoes rotted on the vine before turning red. Lord only knows what I did or didn’t do! Over the years, I have realized that my old garden had become a representation of my life.
By nature, I am an empathic people-pleaser, who loves to explore ideas and learn new things, with a few scars related to family substance abuse. What does this equal? A person with more than a few unhealthy fears, who never wants to let anyone down, and struggles with FOMO (fear of missing out). Don’t get me wrong. Most of my garden is full of really good fruits, but I came to realize that because I couldn’t take care of all the good fruit, some of it was going rotten on the vine, while others were being consumed by the few weeds I continued to let grow.
I still have weeds and a few rotten apples in my garden, but I’m getting better. I’ve scaled the garden way down in size and scope and in a few areas, I’ve even called in reinforcements to help me with regular upkeep. Again, God’s grace has provided me with clarity and support.
Renewing My Strength
I was raised in the upper-Midwest on the prairie as a mainline Protestant. We endured harsh winters and hot summers, but life was good. As a northern prairie girl, it’s expected that you work hard, give hard, love hard, and serve God. The part I never learned, or maybe failed to recognize, was that life isn’t a solo gig. My distorted thinking created mantras in my mind like, “You want it done and done right, you gotta do it yourself.” “If you want something you make it happen.” “Serving God means sacrificing.” “I have to…I need to…I can’t rest until…” Any of these sound even slightly familiar?
There is a small grain of truth in each of them, which makes them so believable! I always believed I just needed to rest a bit and then I could go out and keep doing what I always did. Many failed attempts and God finally has my attention. He doesn’t want me doing this alone. He wants to walk beside me. His spirit wants to provide me with peace, balance, and healthy boundaries. All I need to do is sit still long enough to hear him. I laugh because I sit still quite often as most of my job is desk work. It’s actually my mind that needs to sit still and focus on Him, which is much harder than physically sitting still! I don’t have a surefire solution for this, so I use a few things that seem to be helping such as listening to worship music, playing my piano or guitar, reading the scriptures and focusing on each word.
Honestly, the biggest thing for me in understanding my Martha has been going to the word and understanding first my problem (sin), the solution (Jesus’s sacrifice), and God’s promises (eternal life for those who follow him). Humbleness is a hard pill to swallow for us independent and self-sufficient northern prairie girls. But, I can attest that humble pie gets sweeter with every bite when sitting with Jesus!!
Contributed by Liz Hunt