Please just pause for a moment.
Stop with thinking about what you have to do after you read this blog post. Stop the thoughts of anxiety and worry. Stop thinking about how many Christmas presents you still have to buy and then wrap afterwards. Stop thinking about that obscure tweet or that cute post of the puppy on Instagram. Stop thinking trash about your in-laws or your boss. Stop all of the distracting and completely unnecessary thoughts that I know are consuming you in this moment.
Now, read the following words. Then put down or shut off whatever device you are reading this on, and please do as my words say.
I think in the end, you will be glad you did.
I am challenging you to sit quietly just for a moment. Close your eyes.
Keep all of those thoughts I just told you to stop thinking about from coming back into your head.
Breathe in deeply. Breathe out even deeper.
Tune out all the distractions and just breathe.
Breathe in the silence and utter peace of the following moments.
Feel the energy that is running through your body; feel your heart becoming still. Focus on the feeling of the air flowing in and out of your lungs. Feel everything around you suddenly becoming peaceful. All the distractions fade; all of the chaos fades; all of the impure temptation fades; all of the craziness of the holiday season fades; everything, fades.
Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Breathe. Do it for as long as you deem necessary.
Oh. And one more thing: focus on the Lord.
He’s the reason we are breathing after all.
So, I ask you to take these moments to just sit at His feet. Feel Him in the space around you.
Take as long as you need.
I’ll be here when you get back.
I feel like you’re probably wondering and rightfully so.
Admittedly, it is kinda strange that I would start a post, especially when I haven’t written in forever and a day, by asking you to just sit still and breathe.
I know, I know; however, if you played along I am thankful for it because I know those words up there are directly from God; God was telling me, “Cassidy. Please, write. Please tell your readers to take a moment to be still.” So, I did.
And if you didn’t play along with me, please back up Jack.
Take the time to be still and breathe; I promise that you will get so much more out of this post if you do so.
So, on to the answer.
What was the point of sitting still and doing all of the random breathing at the beginning of this post? Why did I have you cleanse your mind and heart of everything distracting? Why did you have to stop thinking about that adorable puppy picture on Instagram?
Was I trying to get you to have some super amazing and life changing moment with the Lord?
Although it may have happened to someone reading, that was far from my real point.
So, then what?
Was I trying to get you to summon up some random force inside of yourself to predict your future, to tell you that in 20 days you’ll win the lottery?
Was I trying to get you to sit still and just be? Just be on your knees at the feet of our Creator?
Yes. I. Was.
I’m sad to say that we don’t do this often enough.
I need you to think back. Pry open the memory gate of your brain.
Think. When is the last time you stopped in your busy life and schedule to sit still at the Lord’s feet?
Has it been a few years? Has it been a few months? A few weeks? Has it been a few hours?
In any situation, in any walk of life, in any place in your faith, in any age, in any race, in any relational status, and in any sex it’s so easy to cut this stillness and peacefulness out of our lives entirely. Not only do we cut it from our lives because we are busy and hectic humans, but we trade it for something else entirely.
It’s, sadly, almost comparable to a car. Let’s say you have had this old and trustworthy pickup truck that you’ve had for quite a while. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you wish that it could have, but it’s reliable; it’s dependable and you know, with the proper patience and
care, it will get you to where you need to be. It doesn’t get great gas mileage. You know this car doesn’t stall out frequently and it gives you a lot of happiness. You have so many fond memories with it.
But, you are beginning to grow dissatisfied with this “old hunk of junk.” You are ready to trade up for a better version of this car hoping you can get more bells and whistles; you are hoping for even better gas mileage and a more dependable car. You have other focuses and other obligations on your mind and you are hoping it will give you even more joy than the pickup before it.
But life isn’t always that easy, is it?
You get this car and for a few weeks you’re seemingly in love with it. You show it off to all of your friends; you give this car everything it could ever want just like it’s a child at Christmas. Sure, it’s got some disadvantages, but overall it’s giving you a lot of joy.
A few more weeks go by and suddenly it isn’t what you thought it was in the beginning. The gas mileage is worse. The bells and whistles weren’t quite what you wished for because you were hoping for the bass on the speakers to have a little more “umph” to them. The navigation doesn’t work as well as Waze does on your phone. It’s just not what you expected when you “traded up.” And you are driving it around one day when it hits you: you were focused on all the wrong things. You got too busy and focused on all of the wrong things and you forgot to just be still and reflect on whether getting rid of that car would be beneficial to you. You begin missing your old car and you realize how much more dependable it was and how much more joy it brought you.
Am I saying that we “trade up” in our faith just as we do material objects?
Yes. That’s exactly what I am saying.
And here’s what I mean.
Jesus is the dependable, reliable, and joy-filling truck. You can depend on Him, knowing well that He will get you to the destination in life, with patience. Sometimes Jesus doesn’t have all the bells and whistles we wish He did, He doesn’t always give us what we think is best, but He gives us what we really need: dependability and unconditional love.
We trade Jesus for newer things, better things, things we think will fulfill us more. And we cut this stillness and take “quiet time” out of our lives daily in two simple ways. We either trade up for something we think is better or we grow too busy to stop for a moment and be with the Lord. Friends, we tend to focus on the wrong things; we trade up for something we think is going to make us feel more joy, a greater sense of purpose, more belonging, etc. We cut out this time with God for relationships, to do that chore, to make that meal, to take phone calls and FaceTime, to scroll through social media, to run that errand, to do that DIY craft, to send that text, to play that video game, or whatever it may be. We leave Jesus out of our lives, we cut the quiet moments out, just so we can soak up more of the worldly and materialistic obligations we are absolutely drowning in.
But doesn’t Jesus call for us to be in this world and not of it?
Yes, He does. And it happens in John.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
In The Message version, I find the words stick with me even more than they do in the NIV version. Jesus says,
They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world.
Recently, I have began noticing that I fail to allow Jesus into my heart. I have noticed that pick up that book, call that friend, go run that errand, or do that homework. I have other obligations that seem far more important than basking in the presence of the Lord.
I soak up more of our materialistic world instead of soaking up more of the heavenly world that Jesus offers for us.
This is such a mistake and it’s proven time and time again with scripture.
Two weeks ago I was spending time with my favorite former high school Spanish teacher and my life mentor. Our conversation went something like this.
Aponte: “How is college? Are you excited to be home for break?”
Me: “Yes. Except, I find that I am a little restless. I got so used to always being consumed with tasks, homework, and a busy schedule so I am having trouble sitting still. I find myself having to always be doing something like reading or painting. I can’t be still.”
She looks me in the eyes and says, “Ahhh, a Martha. Cass, you need to be Mary. There’s a time and a season… for both.”
And while she didn’t know it until now, that moment really got me; Mrs. Aponte really left me with my hands tied behind my back. I had never really given Mary and Martha, the sisters, much thought. I never really had a moment when I thought about them a lot like I would Paul or anyone else. They seemed so minor to me until this happened.
After this moment, I spent many days thinking about what she had said to me. I only felt like it was God speaking directly to me; I wanted to write a post about it since then, but I couldn’t feel God tugging on my heart until tonight. Just a few hours ago I was just casually on the couch with my dogs. My mom was asleep next to me and I was laying there thinking about my life. Then suddenly, I felt God doing some serious work within me. I got up immediately, grabbed my laptop, and sat down at the kitchen table to begin writing. I knew what I needed to say and what I needed to do.
I am writing to tell you about Jesus’ visit to two sisters. These two sisters are yin and yang, night and day, fire and ice. They are polar opposites, yet God has destined them to sisterhood, to live and function in the same house, together. And if you haven’t predicted just yet, this wasn’t the easiest thing in the world.
(Side note. Please, gentlemen reading this, do not stop just because I mention two sisters. This is just as applicable to you as it is to me and all the other women reading.)
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I keep finding myself reading that over and over again.
There is just so much power in what Jesus says to Martha and we are going to dive into it.
I truly understand Martha because well, I am like Martha. I love making checklists and getting things done. If I am not accomplishing something, I feel like I am essentially wasting time and burning daylight. I, for the most part, hate sitting and doing nothing. I like knowing I am completing tasks and contributing something to either my own life or someone else’s. I like being a busy bee.
It’s clear to see that Martha drives Mary crazy and vise versa. They are polar opposites, one wanting to get everything done and fussing over every single detail and the other ditching seemingly everything to sit at the feet of our Creator. This is why they drive one another crazy. Martha cannot understand why Mary won’t help her cook and Mary cannot understand why Martha won’t settle down and focus on what’s truly important.
I understand Mary too because I long to be more like her and less like Martha.
I truly believe and think that God has blessed me with Martha’s mind and Mary’s heart.
Yes, in my heart I would love to just sit at the feet of the Lord for hours at a time and bask in His presence. I would love to just blow off all of my obligations and do as the Lord has commanded us to do; however, I find myself more like Martha. I find myself “trading up” instead of basking in the presence of the Lord, focusing on other earthly things/tasks that will ultimately be taken away from me and won’t last eternally. I find that I look at my to-do list and I am too busy to take that time as we did earlier to be still and quiet with the Lord. I am both of these women in one. I grow grumpy and flustered when I do not spend time with the Lord like Mary does, but I also grow grumpy and flustered when things aren’t getting checked off my list and going my way like Martha.
So, how do I win?
How do we win? How can we win a world where we are trying to find the balance between both characters? I know we all struggle with this.
I know that majority of the time we like the Mary side of our characters better than the Martha side. And sadly, our lives aren’t that easy. The obligations and plans and dates and appointments and responsibilities of life are seemingly never ending. Martha wins us over most of the time while the Mary inside of us is crying for time with Jesus.
How do we find the balance between both? How do we make sure that the Mary within us and the Martha within us both get their way?
I don’t have this entirely figured out and I will be the first one to admit that I am way far from it; however, in my meditation on this topic the past couple weeks, I have found some words that I think may be helpful to you.
I’ll start with Mary.
Dinner and preparations or Jesus and peace?
Mary clearly chose the best of the two options by choosing Jesus and peace. She cherishes what we were all designed to cherish: the presence and the pursuit of the Lord’s word and heart. I honestly adore the choice she made. The choice she made leaves me speechless honestly. I never feel more fulfilled, purposeful, and joyful than when I am at the Lord’s feet much like Mary.
Mary is surrounded by the chaos of Martha cooking and probably making a bunch of racket by doing so, but even still she sits at the feet of the Lord paying no mind to the ruckuss of Martha. Martha’s world is not ever going to go away. The obligations, responsibilities, appointments, preparations, and tasks are never going to end. Done is never really done because there are more tasks to complete after. Believing they will just cease for a moment is fooling yourself.
In order to focus on the Lord, Mary almost has to remove herself and leave the world that Martha resides in. She has to step away from all of it and cut out all the unnecessary distractions in order to focus on the most fulfilling gift in this entire world: Jesus. Even while the demands of the world beckon on, Mary is able to sit at the feet of Jesus… even if it’s just for a moment.
Mary must know where to draw the line.
Mary must know how to protect her time with the Lord and must remember that the obligations and tasks will be there when she returns.
Much like earlier. You closed your eyes to breathe and spend a moment with the Lord and when you opened your eyes again to return to reality, my blog post was still on your device ready to be read.
It’s the same exact thing. After you have been Mary and basked in the presence of the Lord, the obligations and responsibilities of the world will be there waiting for you. They can be left behind for a moment. Nothing, or so I hope, detrimental will happen in the five minutes you take to be peaceful with the Lord.
Mary chooses to take up her cross. In exchange, she is promised something that will never be taken from her: the Lord’s peace and eternal love.
Martha without a doubt is symbolic of our worldly selves. She is certainly of this world.
She is consumed in earthly tasks, earthly obligations, earthly responsibilities, and earthly preparations. She is consumed with things that have no eternal value or significance like her dinner preparations. She is distracted by things that do not strengthen her faith or refine her in the long run.
She’s gifted, I will for sure give her credit for that. She can cross tasks off of that to-do list like nobody’s business. She’s the master of hospitality, responsibility, planning, delegating, and the like; however, she is not intimate with the Lord.
Isn’t intimacy with the Lord what truly matters?
She’s truly up to her eyeballs in obligation and commitment that she cannot even see the Lord right in front of her nose.
Martha chose to drown in the earthly commitment’s sea while Mary choose to sink deep in mercy’s sea. Mary is able to look beyond the chaos of this world that is so distracting to see what was most important.
Recently, I have been so much of a Martha. I couldn’t open my eyes wide enough as Mary did and see past all of the chaos that is so distracting and pulling me away from my pursuit of the Lord. I want to be the Mary inside me. I don’t want to cater to Martha anymore. I don’t want to be distracted anymore by the daily earthly jargon; however, this is inevitable.
We can’t blow off our obligations and responsibilities to be 100% Mary, 100% of the time... as much as we wish we could.
I know it isn’t easy. As easy as it sounds to just blow off everything in your busy life to be with Jesus, I know it isn’t.
But, how can we balance? What are some practical things we can do to make sure that the Mary within us gets time with Jesus daily? I have
thought about this the past few weeks and I am going to leave my findings below. These are things you can begin doing in your own life to make sure that the Mary inside of you gets her way: her time with Jesus.
We need to power off when it’s time to do so. We need to step away from our laptops, our televisions, our phones, our tablets, our video games, and all of our technology. We need to utilize the off buttons so we can fully devote the short amount of Mary time we have in our Martha lives to Jesus.
Sometimes we have the most random tidbits of time in our Martha worlds to be Mary whether that’s in line at Walmart waiting for the person in front of you to finish checking out or waiting in the lunch line at school or even waiting for the gas to finish pumping. Sometimes these moments can be annoying and agonizing, but we fail to realize that we could be utilizing this time to simply thank the Lord for pursuing and loving us as madly as He does. It’s a bizarre place, but it’s still time you have to be Mary in a Martha world.
If you need time away, take it. If you want to escape the Martha obligations and responsibilities, even for just two seconds, do it. Never be afraid to take the time you need to be with Jesus and remember just as I said earlier that those responsibilities aren’t leaving. They will be there when you return to them. Make sure your priorities are in line. Done is never really done… I am learning that the word “done” does not exist. The list of things to do will go on until your last day on earth. So, make sure you are taking time when you need to and letting the Mary in you refuel so that the Martha can keep on truckin’ through the daily grind.
Early mornings. Late nights. Sometimes this is what it takes to get that time in with the Lord. Rise early in the morning sometimes. Stay awake late at night. I know that everyone cherishes their sleep, but the Lord really does provide all the rest you could ever need. Make the time for Him in these hours whenever you are able to. They are tranquil and peaceful moments and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
When you feel Him tugging you or trying to grab your attention… do not ignore it. Respond in a timely manner. Do not just say, “eh. I can respond whenever I want or feel like it.” No. You need to respond when the Lord calls you because He is calling you to something huge: to do His work. God doesn’t want you to wait until it is convenient for you. Respond. Do not miss His call.
These are just a few ways we can begin working to let the Mary in us get her way daily.
We cannot live without God’s guidance and eternal truth.
He is what’s most important and we have to make a conscious choice daily to choose Him, while also getting things done. He is the first gift we received and the only one we will ever need.
So, I ask you this: where are you pointing?
Not only where are you pointing, but what are you pointing to?
Are you pointing to the chaos of this world like Martha or to the eternal peace like Mary?
And who are you pointing to?
Because I promise you this: Mary is pointed directly up. She pointed directly to Jesus.
I want to do that.
I want to be just like her, basking eternally at the feet of the person who will always fill me up and renew my soul.
Don’t you want to be more like Mary and less like Martha?
Will you point to Jesus with me? I sure hope you will join me because this is a call from God that we should not refuse.
God is calling you to pause.
Stop all of the excess thinking and focus.
Focus on the space around you, the air you're breathing, the stillness of this moment.
Do you feel it?
Do you feel the peace that is enveloping your heart?
Do you feel the anxiety around you fleeing?
Do you feel it?
You’re having a Mary moment and you’re pointing in the right direction… to Jesus.
Sometimes, we discover our life is beginning to weigh us down; we find it difficult to feel the joy God gives us on a daily basis. This past weekend, I embarked on a journey to Frequency, a camp for seventh and eighth graders and discovered that life, while beautiful and a blessing, still has it's bricks that weigh us down.
If you think about it, “yes” and “no” are two of the most important and used vocabulary words in our language. They are around us all the time, circulating in the air we breathe. But how should they be appearing in our faiths?