June 4, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Don’t allow life’s busyness to distract you from Jesus

Patti LambLess than a year ago, we moved into a new home on the other side of Plainfield. We’ve been working down a list of house projects to make our new house feel like home. From wainscoting and painting to installing light fixtures and a fence, we’ve been busy inside and outside of the house. I was hoping the house would be in order for a small lunch gathering I was hosting for my sisters and mother. I went into a cleaning frenzy and finally had the house put together.

After taking a shower, I came downstairs to the kitchen, and there it was.

A dirty chocolate milk cup was sitting on the counter next to the dishwasher. The dishwasher was not even half-full of dirty dishes, and I couldn’t understand why an intelligent human wouldn’t just load the cup into the dishwasher. Then I looked over and saw potato chip crumbs all over the counter, spilling onto the floor. (You read the part that the kitchen was clean 20 minutes ago, right?) The Twizzlers wrapper on the floor—near the trash can, but not in it—was the final straw.

“Who didn’t put his or her cup into the dishwasher?” I shouted. Demanding an answer at once, I summoned the kids and interrogated them about the chip crumbs, menacingly wielding the Twizzlers wrapper.

I had dark thoughts of changing the Wi-Fi password and hiding my son’s car keys.

And in that moment, I recalled the story of Mary and Martha, from Luke’s Gospel:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way home, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ” (Lk 10:38-40).

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:41-42).

I calmed down after asking the kids to clean up their mess and enjoyed a lovely afternoon with my beloved sisters and mother. That night, I remembered a book a friend had given me called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, and I opened it.

A few of the paragraphs on a page captured my attention.

“The Living Room Intimacy Mary enjoyed with Jesus will never come out of the busyness of Martha’s kitchen. Busyness, by itself, breeds distraction. Luke 10:38 shows us a woman with the gift of hospitality. Martha opened her home to Jesus, but that doesn’t automatically mean she opened her heart. In her eagerness to serve Jesus, she almost missed the opportunity to know Jesus. … We can get caught in the same performance trap, feeling as though we must prove our love for God by doing great things for him. So we rush past the intimacy of the living room to get busy for him in the kitchen—implementing great ministries and wonderful projects, … but in the end, will he know us?”

I closed the book and invited my family to the living room. I pulled out a board game, a bag of popcorn and some Oreos, and we enjoyed living room intimacy for a change. Despite the crumbs, it was lovely.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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