Monday, October 21, 2013

Dear Martha

I'm a Martha.  I enjoy running my household.  I enjoy keeping my house clean, doing the laundry, cooking meals, gardening, and the many other things that housewives must do to maintain their home.  When I know that company is coming over, I go into overdrive and clean clean clean.  When I don't know that company is coming over and someone just shows up (which, thankfully, doesn't happen very often), I tend to panic and sometimes things get shoved into closets and drawers before the front door is opened. 
But you may notice from the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 that Martha was the one who was gently admonished by Jesus.  Now if you're a Mary, your tendency will probably be to look at the story and use it to justify your filthy house and the frozen pizza dinner for the tenth night in a row.  But I don't think that's the point of the story.  The point wasn't really what each sister was doing at that exact moment but what their priorities looked like.  After all, if Mary was always sitting on the floor doing nothing, Jesus would have admonished her for that as well. 
Ever since Josiah came into our lives, I've had to make conscious decisions every day to realign my priorities.  As I walk by my son for the fifth time and he still has his arms up, wanting to be picked up and held, I need to set down the load of laundry and pick him up.  I need to stop planning the perfect dinner and sit down and read him a book.  I need to stop worrying about sticking to a schedule or a list and spend time with my son.  My tendency will always be to keep house first.  But the house will always be there.  The dirty laundry will always be there.  The pots and pans in the sink will always be there.  My son won't always be with me and I need to reprioritize so I can spend lots of time playing with him, talking with him, reading to him, and rocking him to sleep.
A little caution for the Mary's whose tendency it is to always play with the kids and just watch their house fall down around their ears.  Part of being a good mother is teaching your child to work hard.  If you're always leaving the dirty dishes or laundry for tomorrow, your child might grow up thinking that work isn't important at all which will be very detrimental to him/her.  There are many warnings in the Bible about laziness.  Besides, always being at your child's beck and call is not a good thing to teach them.  They need to learn to entertain themselves and as they get older to eventually realize that sometimes mom can't just stop what she's doing to read a book or play in the yard.  The key is balance.  If I'm spending all my time cleaning and no time with my son, I need to scale back the cleaning and play with my son.  If there's only play, I need to wash a few dishes and vacuum the floor. 
But since I'm a Martha, I write specifically for you other Martha's because I know how you feel.  Don't miss out on your kids because your housekeeping got in the way.  Teach them good habits, yes, but also teach them that family is magnificently important and spending time with them is a wonderful thing.

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