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What Really Matters

I mopped the sweat off my brow with my crumbled up shirt sleeve, the steam from the pot of delicious smelling food wafting up to greet me as I stirred. My face was ruddy from hours of laboring over a hot stove. I glanced up quickly, noting all the fun everyone else was having in the next room, but also the impatience that can only come from hunger. Everyone wanted to eat!

“Almost done!” I shouted out to everyone, though no one was asking.

On this, our first big celebration together, I was determined to have everything be perfect. I had set the table the day before. Placed my centerpiece out early in the day, and worked at making a perfectly yummy and memorable meal for everyone.

Only here’s the thing. No one else really cared too much about all the effort. In a house full of mostly kids, all the nuances and niceties were pretty much lost. In the meantime, everyone else was occupying themselves with card games, wrestling matches on the carpeted floor, or playing something creative born from one of their imaginations. People fluttered over from time to time to ask if I needed anything, gracious offers which I accepted. But mostly I was missing out on all the fun.

Finally, we all sat down and said grace. We ate. We laughed. But then there were all the dishes to clean, all the mess to deal with. Normally, I don’t mind. But today I was struck by the glaring fact that I missed out on the majority of the bonding and fun. Sure, people joined me from time to time in the kitchen, but it wasn’t the same.

As my hubby and l laid down at the end of a very full day, he whispered, “You know you didn’t have to do all that. I would’ve preferred to just have you with us.”

I sighed in resignation. “You’re right. Everybody had fun while I missed out. No more elaborate meals during big family events. Promise.”

As he kissed my forehead good night, I immediately thought of Martha. No, not Martha Stewart, whose vibe I’d clearly channeled all day. Martha from the Bible. Also whose vibe I’d clearly channeled.

“Lord,” she complained to Jesus, “don’t you care that my sister has let me do all the work by myself?” Translation – I’ve been laboring my bootie off to get the perfect meal together for you and all these visitors, Jesus, but my sister has been sitting down all day just hanging out with you.


She adds in for good measure, “Tell her to help me!”

Trust me. I’m sure Martha had already glared at her sister Mary from a far. Had many, many long-suffering thoughts about how her sister always got to have fun while she had to do all the hard stuff.

The thing is, no one asked Martha to do all of those things. She took it upon herself to do it, I’m sure initially with a heart that wanted to be a blessing to others. But as the preparations stretched out, she realized she was missing out. Surely someone should help her finish the good she was trying to do for Jesus — like her lazy sister, Mary!

I can almost picture Jesus as he answers Martha. Gently shaking his head and answering with a small smile, “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things, but only thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Ouch. I kinda did that with my family. I got so caught up in what I wanted to do for them that I forget to actually think about whether or not they would actually want it. It was my agenda, not necessarily theirs.