Sunday, July 1, 2012


Writing this has been a little ironic. Phones ringing, kids running back and forth, needing a drink of water, spilling water, peeing pants, give me a ride, Mom can I..., Mom he just..., {crash), {waahh}, or the worst - silence.

I have spent the spring trying to bring myself back to some normal level of bible study. I started in February with a 21 day study of women in the bible that I found on my kindle. If all goes as planned, I will finally finish it up this coming week. 21 day study... 4 months to finish it...

Anyway, one of the days was, of course, the story of Martha and Mary. Instead of skimming like I usually do with stories I know (why do I do that, I always still get something out of the story when I slow down... must be distraction), I slowed down and read it. Let's read it now.
Luke 10:38-42 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Wait, that's not what I read... in my study I was reading an NIV version and the wording was just enough different to wake me up a little. In that v 40 says, '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!”'

Martha was distracted.

She was focused on all the preparations and lost track of who and what the preparations were for.

But for me, when the distractions pile up, how can I keep and kind of focus? I am Martha, resentful of Mary, burdened by all of the stuff to be done. Someone has to do it! When is there time for Martha to be with Jesus? It's all very well to say that her work is her prayer, is her worship. But it still feels a little bit unfair.

So I jotted in my notebook: Focus on who I am doing the work for, not on the work itself.

Which is a nice idea in theory, putting it into practice is not as easy. I'm still distracted and little bit resentful. And so my days of pushing myself through this study continued until one day just this past week when I felt like my prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling. I thought, "I'm trying, Lord. Why aren't I getting any closer to you through this?"

I took a deep breath. Prayer. Just what is prayer?

And I remembered the image of just lifting my heart to God. Maybe I am struggling too much over the words I am reading or in trying to find the right words to say here. What I need to do is just lift my heart to God.

Okay, so what is my heart?

The picture that came to mind here was the junk drawer in my kitchen. My heart is full of junk. If I picture lifting that messy box of stuff above my head... a box full of things I don't even know what to do with anymore - broken bits of this and that, things I am not sure what their purpose is, not sure what is important to keep or what to toss, and so it's all there, in the way, unusable...

These are my distractions.

If I lift the whole thing up over my head, I can ask God to pull out the useless garbage (worldly attachments), the broken items (bad thought processes and other sins), and put the rest in order. Because when I am looking down at this mess, I can't look up to Him.

So I have to lift my heart / messy drawer to Him.

As is.

He can sort me out.

So back to Martha. "'But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." Martha made it possible for Mary to be there, for Jesus to sit and teach. Martha got stuff done. For me, maybe the distraction isn't so much the exterior noise around me, but my interior reaction to it. By my resentment and jealousy I am creating a dust storm of distraction that can't even be calmed down when I do have a quiet moment.

I remember another mom telling me that her mothering during mass was her prayer. "Mothering in the pew". That simple idea changed mass going for me. It wasn't about hearing the homily or readings anymore while hissing violently at my children to BE QUIET. It became about gently leading my children through the mass. (Not that it always works, but in general I am a little less stressed out by it.)

I'm sorry to say that I don't have any grand advice to give about the distractions our family and the world throw at us during prayer. In my state of life there is very little I can do to calm those down, they are ever present, and if they aren't, then I need to be sleeping, it's as simple as that.

But I think we can all work towards calming down the internal distractions. The clutter and noise that we produce ourselves or allow in to our minds and hearts can be identified and cleared out. Some of it we can do, but I think it will take some help from God to find it all and clear it all out.

Dear Jesus,
Please show me what is distracting me from the inside.  I give you full permission to weed out the junk I carry around with me.  Heal me of the hurts and show me how to help the process of healing. Take away my attachments to broken ideas and habits and show me how to guard myself against them.  Put my heart in order to I can meet you there in peace, without extra noise or distraction.  Help me to find the things that keep me from focusing on you.

And help me, Lord, to make my daily work its own prayer to you.  You created me and gave me my vocation.  Let it mold me into who you mean for me to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment