Saying No to Stress & Worry

I never thought of myself as a worrier.  As a young twenty something, the world seemed exciting and my life’s path stretched out for miles in front of me, nothing but open road just begging to be explored.  All I wanted to do was run after Jesus.  I would read about Mary and Martha, the two sisters who had Jesus over for dinner, and roll my eyes at Martha who was worrying about preparations and upset that her sister Mary, instead of helping, was sitting at Jesus’ feet.  Well, of course she’s sitting at Jesus’ feet!  I would think.  Seriously, who cares about food at a time like that?! (Read more about Mary & Martha’s story here)

Fast forward a few decades and I have a new appreciation for Martha.  Poor woman!  She was trying to feed a large crowd and to make everything special for the Son of God. And no one was willing to help.  I can almost hear her thinking, If Mary would just pitch in, this would be done and maybe I’d get to hear Jesus, too.  Now I understand how she would wear that perceived responsibility, go into “mom” mode and try to take care of everybody.  I think she forgot about Jesus and the loaf and the fish, about His supernatural ability to do miracles if need be to provide for everyone there.  She thought it was all up to her.  So, she fretted and she worried and she lost sight of Jesus.  I understand her heart in it all, and I’ve come to realize that if I’m honest with myself, I have become a lot more like Martha.

I think age does this to us. Or perhaps it’s character or personality or even responsibility.  I want to serve Jesus faithfully, I want to walk hand-in-hand with God.  But there are so many distractions, so much to do. My task list just grows longer, the laundry and the bills pile up and need tending to, and the kids need to be dropped off or picked up yet again.  My business deals needs to be nurtured, my friends need attention, and I need theirs.  And that’s not even adding in the phone call I should’ve made to my aunt well over a week ago, the thoughtful thank you note I had every intention of writing or the office shelves that are literally screaming at me to get them organized; the list goes on and on and on.  I suspect yours does, too.

Recognizing that shift in my spirit from a Mary-like heart (Jesus said she chose what was better) to a Martha-like heart has been a wake-up call for me. I don’t want to get so caught up in my agenda or my “preparations” that I miss the main course – a vibrant walk with Christ. There is nothing greater in this life than sitting at Jesus’ feet. Nothing. Not closing that large deal at the office, or watching my children step more fully into their giftings, or celebrating and laughing with friends, or anything else because Jesus is over it all and through it all anyway. There is nothing that escapes His notice; nothing good under the sun that doesn’t come from Him. Remembering this truth allows me to take a deep, cleansing breath and to choose to relax in His presence.

Shifting my heart back from a Martha to a Mary-like position of faith has certainly been a journey for me, one I’ve by no means accomplished. It has required me let go of things I want to hang onto, big things like the illusion that I’m in control of my life and running the show, so I’d better perform. And little things like allowing the laundry to wait one more day so I can lean more fully into what God was calling me to in that moment. In other words, it forces me to open my hands and let God direct me. But doing so has made all the difference!

I no longer obsess over what I didn’t get done in a day or what still lies ahead. I make time for God in the morning and we prayerfully plan out the day together. What I can’t get to, He has. He holds and protects it for me, and makes clear when and if it is something I need to tackle. I’m more at peace throughout my day. My shoulders hurt less; my smile appears more often. There is a bounce in my step and a joy in my spirit that I can feel. Not perfectly, but consistently. And when I do start obsessing and fretting again, when the worries of this life start to weigh me down, I don’t add more to my list; I go to Jesus’ feet. In that space I find my answers. I want to choose what is better because better brings freedom and joy. How about you?

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: When I start to pick back up the weight of my world, I go and read Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” This reminds me that far from being yet another to-do item that can feel burdensome, my time with God is what allows me to have a restful spirit that is at peace in the midst of my circumstances. My time with Him equips me to tackle those items more efficiently and effectively.

What do you tend to want to pick up in your life? What keeps you from sitting at Jesus’ feet? Today, decide to fight to place God front and center in your life, and in the comings and goings of each day. I promise that if you do, you will notice a difference!

PRAYER:  Father God, I am amazed at how quick I am to pick up the details of my life, as if they were my burden to carry.  I know You have promised to always direct my path perfectly, and that you hold me in the palm of Your hand.  Sometimes I forget.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy, and that You never forget me, never get overwhelmed, and when I’m hit with something that is challenging to me, You’ve already crafted a solution for it long ago.  And even though it can feel hard sometimes, thank You that Your timing isn’t mine.  As challenging as it can be for me to closely follow Your leading, I know Your solutions are always so much richer than mine.  Thank You, Papa!  Your patience with me humbles and overwhelms my soul.  You love me so well, so thoroughly.  Let me sense Your presence and carry You close to me today.  Amen.

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