This Crazy, Fast Paced Frenzy

10:37 AMHeather

Do y'all remember back in your teen years when you'd read Seventeen magazine and complete those little surveys?  You know, the ones that told you what kind of friend you were or what your style was or what kind of boy was best for you.  

I've always been a sucker for those kind of self-tests.  I think I'm drawn to the promise of knowing myself better.  I like things to fit nicely in little categories.  Simple formulas and step-by-step instructions toward a goal really work for my perfectionist, Type A personality.  

In the spirit of such surveys, I have one for you today.  Please complete the following questions, choosing the answer that most accurately describes you.  Then read on, bloggy friends, for my musings for today.

1.  When describing your overall pace in life, you:
a.  often find yourself sitting to ponder important life lessons.
b.  often find yourself busy doing things that need to be done.

2.  When describing your general mentality:
a.  you would say you are relaxed and particular about how you spend your time.
b.  you are in a frenzy, jumping from one thing to the next.

3.  Considering your emotional health:
a.  you would say you are refreshed and confident.
b.  you feel troubled and anxious about many things.

4.  As far as your approach to life:
a.  you are intentional and particular about your time.
b.  you have way too much going on to even think about having an approach to life.

5. When you consider your prayer life:
a.  you are thankful for the way you interact with God through prayer, learning more about him on a regular basis.
b.  you think of the million things you've asked him for help with, most of which feels unanswered.

If you answered "b" to most of these questions, then you are a normal American adult, busy juggling multiple plates.  And, if it's any consolation, you are very much like I have been for most of my life.  I'd like to say just my adult life, but who am I kidding?  I was a serious kid and high achiever from the get go.

Which has pretty much been my approach to my faith.  My entire life.  Yep.  Like the little Welcome Week wheel at my Baylor freshmen orientation week--working to find a balance between the spiritual, emotional, physical and academic.  You know--with Jesus at the center of the wheel.  Keep your spokes and pie pieces even and voile--a sure fire recipe for success!

Except, I've come to realize, it's not.  It's just not the formula to the type of life I'm becoming more and more hungry for--the life I'm in  the process of embracing.  Learning to be released from this crazy, fast paced frenzy.  My Granny used to say that the older you get, the faster time goes.  Truer words were never spoken, Granny.  

Absolutely.  And as the years fly by and my children grow up, I've found myself in this sorta reflective mode about the way I spend my time.  The way my days add up together to equal the sum of my years on earth.  

And it's all a rather frenzied mess of tasks and deadlines and calendar demands.  Listen, I want off!  I want off the treadmill going no where.  I want to run along some beautiful paths and soak in the experience.  I want to slow it down a bit.  Quit playing the LP record at a pace that sounds like the Chipmunks because the record player is tuned to a faster pace.  (I'm dating myself...younger generations missed out, I tell ya.) 

Do you know what I mean?  I'm in a serious season of regrouping here.  Trying to be molded and refined as only God can do to move my focus where it has been to where it needs to be.  To learn to do what Mary did, rather than succumb to my Martha ways.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving.  And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her then to help me."  But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." 
Luke 10:39-42 

Compare and contrast. Mary sat and listened.  Martha was distracted with much serving.  Mary humbled herself at the Lord's feet and learned.  Martha made demands of the Lord.  Mary chose the good portion.  Martha was anxious and troubled.  Mary invested in what couldn't be taken away.  Martha got herself worked up in a frenzy.  

The Lord loved them both.  

He answered Martha.  It doesn't say he rebuked her or scolded her.  He answered her.  Both women are noted as special to the Lord.  Listen, no matter which one describes you best--the Lord's love doesn't fail or falter.  His grace is extended to all.

But, I think if you evaluate the lives of both women, Mary enjoyed a deeper relationship with the Lord that led to being freed from anxiety and trouble and distractions.  Because Mary chose the one thing necessary.  

Mary wasn't juggling plates to keep her physical and academic and emotional parts of life balanced with her spiritual.  

She just chose the one thing.  

She sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things were added unto her.  She lived by first things first.  God can handle the rest.

Mary has been a fascinating character for me to consider this year.  And I have been mulling her life over throughout the gospels.  I have much more to say about her in days to come.  But, today, I want to talk about this secret.  The secret of avoiding the distractions and the busyness of serving that led Martha to make demands of the Lord and to be anxious and troubled.

Because I am, by nature Martha.  And for a long time, I've tried to be Mary.  

This year, as a person who does, I'm learning to instead set a new task list.  Instead of trying to be someone I'm not, I'm trying to DO what Mary did.

Dial it all back.  Simplify and cut out distractions and let go of some things so that I can be sure to literally sit and listen to His teaching.  And also figuratively do so in a spirit and posture of prayer and meditation throughout my day, literally picturing myself sitting at His feet, releasing all the kitchen duties to Him to fight my battles. 

It's no easy lesson for me, I tell ya.  I'm barely out of the starting gates.  Learning the sacred practice of sitting at the feet of Jesus and reorienting my life from doing and tasks to an approach of Sabbath living.  Sabbath in the original language meant to cease or desist.  I'm in a continual mode of asking for wisdom for what I need to cease and desist. Keep in mind, it may look different for you.  

This is how far I've gotten.  I'm still on that social media fast, hopping on to post my blog, send a specific message or check my sons' activities.  Cannot even begin to tell you how this has reoriented me to live for my audience of One and not even think of my life in statuses or posts.  

I've let go of couponing.  I'm in a season of trying to keep two teenage boys and one hungry preteen girl fed and full.  I'm also trying to feed my family food that is cleaner and not pre-packaged or preserved.  Couponing is not working.  So I've broken up with grocery game.  For now.  Because it gives me freedom to knock out my shopping faster and have one less task that makes me feel frenzied.

My meal planning is uber simple.  A meat and some (or one) veggie.  Generally, a meat I throw in the oven or have my husband grill and a veggie that I steam or broil.  Or I'm loving my crock pot recipes.  Listen, the dinner I fix my kids is only one of two they usually eat each night... they are like the Hobbits who eat a second breakfast.  They snack when they get home from school, eat my dinner and then fix another dinner about 8:30.  There's the kitchen kids.  Knock yourself out.  Because I'm not going to lose sleep about fancy meal planning right now.  

Overall, I'm changing my mentality to this:  one thing is necessary.  If I can find time daily to sit with my prayer journal, read the Word (I'm using the reading plan), and reflect on it, then I've had a productive day.  All else is gravy.  THIS is some major, major regrouping and redefining for me.  BIG TIME.  To remember that He wants my good portion that cannot be taken away.  Not my highlighted and completed task list.  

Another change I've made is I've quit doing my budget spreadsheets, tallying my receipts.  I realized something.  My bimonthly habit of trying to gather all receipts, input them into my monthly budget, and gauge where we are was making me feel anxious and troubled.  I have had this habit for approximately ALWAYS.  So, to let it go meant asking my husband incessantly about 3,229 times if he was okay with me NOT doing the spreadsheets this year.  Sure, said Mr. Type B.  Patiently.  Every time.  Because I married a saint.  

The truth is this.  Our budget never adds up on paper.  We should be majorly in debt.  But we have been debt free (so far) for over 6 years, other than our house.  We live on a non-profit salary and my irregular non-profit contractor work that is the little extra every time we need it.  We take out cash every paycheck and that's what we live on until the next paycheck.  So, really--I'm not being financially irresponsible or throwing all caution to the wind by not doing my spreadsheet.  I'm simply trying to live up to the challenge to trust my Provider and leave it at that. I guess, for me, I'm being challenged to quit micromanaging my Provider God.

Here's one last, more recent addition.  Cutting social media has meant I'm losing my appetite for television.  I'm finding that as I ask God to teach me how to choose the one thing and give me a hunger for Him, he is taking away the hunger for empty calories.  I'm simply more drawn to reading right now.  Oh, I'll sit to watch a specific show here or there.  Or a movie with my kids (Oh, YES!  Let's watch Frozen for the billionth time, sweet daughter!).  But the more I am intentionally trying to reorient myself, the more my longings and desires are falling in line.  

So, I'm jumping out there.  Choosing obedience first.  Asking God to help me do what Mary did.  To minute by minute, learn to plant myself and my heart at His feet.  Listening.  Ready.  Posed.  Surrendering the kitchen duties and battles to Him to fight for me.  Waiting for His direction.  

Interesting thing.  While it is incredibly uncomfortable at first (okay, and still), I'm learning to embrace it more and more.  To find joy in a slower pace.  In the difficult job of unraveling.  Unwinding.  Letting go.  Setting my sights on the one thing necessary.  Mindful of the extra unnecessary distractions that I can surrender.

The one thing necessary.  To sit at the Lord's feet and listen to His teaching.  

Tomorrow, I hope you'll join me for the next amazing glimpse of Mary at Jesus' feet.  I'll just say this. Mind blown... may we be like Mary!   

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