I am a doer. I do and I do and I do, and sometimes I get so caught up in doing that I forget things like eating, sleeping, and playing. Luckily, I have five boys who don’t let me forget eating for very long, but the sleep and play part I have to remind myself about. I tend to put them on the back shelf behind the never ending list of responsibilities that assault my time
The truth is, I really do have important things that need doing for my life coaching, my teaching, my children, my CCD classes, my home, and for so many other things. I often get so caught up in what needs to be done, that I forget that downtime needs to be done too. I forget to make time to rest, to play with my children, to feed my children without their reminders (I won’t win Mother of the Year Award again this year!)
I forget to make time to sit with the Lord and say the Rosary, quietly reflecting on Jesus’ life as I move from verse to verse along each bead. I forget to take time to read my Bible and journal about what I’ve discovered. I forget the value of silence. I fill every second with what must be done or what I think must be done without taking the time to rest and to play.
I’ve admittedly gotten better at downtime through the years. As crisis has faded and time has passed, as the kids grow and my scars have healed over, I do find time to breathe now, but it’s not something that comes naturally. It’s often something I have to remind myself to do. Sometimes it’s something I need to consciously schedule into my week.
I am a Martha.
I’d rather be a Mary. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet just listening to Him, absorbing His presence, being renewed by His Word, and Jesus appreciated her for it. He even pointed out to Martha the value Mary had that Martha was missing out on.
It used to bother me. Not my being a Martha, but Jesus’ appreciation of Mary when Mary didn’t pitch in, when poor Martha was stuck doing all the work. How could He? Poor Martha. She was running herself ragged and Jesus failed to appreciate her efforts.
That’s the way I, a Martha, thought.
Now, I see things differently. Wisdom may have changed me or maybe I’ve grown older and more sentimental. Maybe it’s the realization that life passes too quickly to be all Martha all the time or maybe it’s the gift of abandonment that forced me stop and appreciate the goodness and the people around me, that made me want to spend more time with loved ones. Whatever it is, I now understand that Jesus was not putting Martha down but hoping to lift her up.
Jesus sees the intrinsic value in each of us, value given to us by our Creator, value He is a part of! He knows each of us has skills and talents we are gifted with. For people like Martha it’s doing. For people like Mary it’s being. It’s not that doing or being is more valuable than the other, but that when the doing so completely dominates the being that we lose focus on family and the Lord, on what is truly Good, that Jesus steps in to pull us back from the edge of doing. He knows our doing can be even better when we remember to just be too.
Sound Confusing, This Doing vs Being? Which is Better?
It’s not really. It’s not that Jesus loves one more than another or that He doesn’t appreciate do-ers as much. It’s that He wants us to make time to do and time to be because He knows we are best when our lives are in balance, when we take time to bask in His glory rather than our own and, let’s face it, do-ers can get caught up in doing life.
Sounds like it’s a prison sentence when it’s put that way; if we forget to relax and be, too much doing can end up feeling almost like a trap we cannot escape from. Jesus came to free us; He knows we gain dignity in work but freedom only in our being with Him.
This idea that Jesus appreciates do-ers as much as be-ers struck as I reflected upon Sunday’s Gospel. In John 21, as soon as Peter recognizes Jesus, he jumps from the boat to swim to the Lord. He leaves his friends to bring the boat ashore so he can get to Jesus asap. This may allow us to mistake Peter for being a be-er, someone content to sit at Jesus’ feet and just be, but this is not Peter at all.
Put yourself in that Gospel scene, John 21. What would your reaction be?
If you’d been walking down that shore long ago, what would you have seen? How would you have reacted? Would you have recognized Jesus? What would your reaction have been to see this man jump from the boat and swim like mad to the shore?
I’d have been a little surprised to say the least. I’d have knitted my brows together at the impulsiveness of such an act, of such a Man! I’d have burst out in laughter. I’d have gone to see what the draw was.
I can imagine Jesus doing the same. Granted, He probably knew Peter would jump from the boat. I wonder how many times Jesus would re-watch that scene in His mind. I wonder if that scene ever got old. I wonder if Jesus still laughs out loud at the thought of Peter jumping from the boat in impulsive Joy.
I wonder what the other apostles did when they got to the shore. Did they laugh too? Did they grumble about having to bring in the boat with one less helping hand? Did they ask Peter if he’d thought about what would’ve happened if they’d all acted so impulsively?
If the apostles are like my boys, they might have, but we don’t hear about it because the focus becomes Jesus asking Peter about His Love for Him and Peter saying three times He Loves Jesus.
How different is this from Jesus’ beloved apostle John! Jesus Loves John and trusts him so much that He gives John His Mother Mary to care for during His crucifixion. Jesus gives Mary to John and John to Mary and that is the end. There is no questioning of whether John will do this. There is no triple replay of the same question spoken in different words. There is not even a question at all.
There is quite simply a statement because Jesus knows each of us that well. He knows John will be there for His Mother. He also knows being is not enough for Peter. Peter must do something too. Even though it hurts Peter to be asked three times, Peter benefits from openly admitting his Love for the Savior, for doing something. Peter is a do-er. Peter is the one upon whom the Lord built His Church. Peter was valued for his activity, the very impulsiveness that made him jump from the boat was driven by a need for action that Jesus recognized could be disciplined into becoming a great leader.
For many single parents, for many divorced, abandoned, heartbroken, and hurting people simply being isn’t a reality yet. There’s too much to do, too much that NEEDS to be done when you’re surviving on limited income and parenting, housekeeping, shopping, surviving alone.
Those few moments when you steal time by yourself, especially when the pain is raw and new, feels like stolen time. It doesn’t feel like Good time. It’s painful and hard to sit still. Aloneness in being threatens you with despair threatens rather than lifts you in restoration.
If this is you, don’t feel bad. Use the energy you have that Jesus knows is inside you. Act. Do. Jump from your boat and run to Jesus. Use His Love and Laughter when you find it hard to find your own. Peter had to fail three times before He realized what He’d done. Don’t beat yourself up for past mistakes, but don’t get stuck repeating them either. Be strong in your doing. Let Jesus make you the Rock of your Family in whatever form it is in, just as He made Peter the Rock of His Church in the floundering form the Church was in during those early years.
Do, by all means DO! When you need to do, do, but do WITH the Lord and be ready to just be when the time is right. Look for opportunities to be too. Look for Jesus to provide balance. Realize that even when you feel alone in your being, you are not alone. Your Guardian Angel is beside you. The Holy Spirit lives within you, and Jesus Christ is waiting for you to jump from your boat and swim like mad to Him and to tell Him over and over that you Love Him.
Jesus knows how you are made. He knows what is going on in your life right now and what will happen in all your tomorrows. He knows the secret thoughts in your head and those that pound wordlessly in your heart. You are Loved as you are.
Let Jesus heal you in your doing and in your being.
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!
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