Martha-ish.

What a day. I do not usually subscribe to the idea that Mondays are the worst, but today sure felt like it. I overextended myself considerably in an effort to make it all work for everyone else’s schedule and a lack of saying no and I am bone tired. Teary tired. Even as I am writing this, the memories of frustration are causing this lump to settle in my throat.

I work with college students and that requires a certain level of flexibility. I am not inflexible per se, but I have a low (make that zero) tolerance for ambiguity and nonsense. I hide it well, but it manifests itself in ways no one can see, through the aforementioned lump and the knot between my shoulders and the imperceptible tears brimming at the corners of my eyes. Today garnered all three and then some. The setup for my first event was wrong, the catering was delivered so early for my second workshop that it was cold by the time we began, a girl flat out interrupted that workshop by walking into the room in the middle of it and walking across the front of the room (where I was presenting) and walking into a storage closet only to walk back out and tell me she was looking for a room that was in a different part of the building (yes, I cursed internally at that one), the catering was an hour late for my last workshop of the day and only three students showed up for a speaker who had flown in from Houston. At the end, one student declared, “In the nicest way possible, I don’t know who is in charge of your marketing, but they need to do a better job.” I’m in charge of it, child. I am. But please, in your complete lack of professional work and your claims to know everything at 23, please tell me how I am really supposed to do it. Of course, I didn’t say that, but I wanted to. It was right there. Bless her little heart. And then I promptly spilled two chafing dishes full of hot water down the front of my blouse and trousers when cleaning up.

To make matters worse, I am a department of one so all set up and tear down and clean up is on me. I am frustrated with colleagues for not showing me professional courtesy. I am tired of being there for them with their events and then them not being there for me. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

So all of this was building up over the last twelve hours and I was real done with this day and sat down in my sopping wet pants to work on packaging the untouched catering from tonight and trying to sort through three workshops worth of assessment and fliers when I stopped for a moment to look at Instagram. Because my sweet friends make adorable children and there is nothing like smiling babies and a loved tribe to brighten my day. But instead, the first thing in my feed was a quote from dear (and dead) Oswald Chambers, “There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.

Ouch. I immediately remembered the day some ten years ago when I learned the difference between Mary and Martha. For my un-Bible friends, a little recap: Mary and Martha were sisters who welcomed Jesus into their home. While Martha ran around and cleaned and served food and got mad, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. Martha’s mad spilled over and she asked Jesus why Mary could get away with being so lazy. “But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

I spent most of my life, both childhood and adulthood, being mad at Mary…and Jesus for enabling her. I am a do-er of things and not always a listener of truth. I despise laziness in word and deed and thought. I am better now, but sometimes I fall into my old ruts. Like today. Lots of rushing about. Not a lot of taking the time to heed what the Lord was teaching me in every moment. Even though I know better and I have learned a better way, I am still a hot mess of curls and wild dreams and too much perfectionist demands. That’s a painful truth after a painful day.

So back to dear old Oswald. God doesn’t want my rushing about. He just wants my heart. Every bit. I don’t measure success by the number of people attending my workshops or how high I rate in my boss’s estimation of my work or how well my student’s rate their level of satisfaction. All I want is to lay down to sleep at night knowing I was kind and gracious with each person in my path and somehow mimicked the love of Christ that I have been freely given. I don’t do it well. I know this. I can be most Martha-ish in chaos. And yet God is ever there, gently reminding me (okay, maybe sometimes not real gently, because I don’t always listen) that He just wants my heart. He doesn’t care how I measure up in others’ eyes either. He just wants my heart. My life. My all. My surrender.

Amen to that.

 

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Made grateful.

Man, I have been going through it. Just learning more deeply about people and about myself in relation to the world around me. Some good lessons, some painful. All of it worth the hassle because of today.

A dear friend texted me to see if I had time to chat this afternoon. She is one of those people with whom I can go years without speaking or seeing, but we pick up right where we left off and we have learned to cover a lot of ground in thirty stolen minutes in the midst of our busy. Throughout our pouring out of words and hearts, I was reminded over and over again that this season of loneliness and lack of friendship has carved this well of gratitude in the deeper recesses of my heart.

I am more grateful for the friends I still have in far-flung places. More grateful for the depths of their souls and that they choose to share that depth with me. More grateful for the way they live their own wild lives with such dignity and respect for the imago Dei residing in us all. More grateful for how they process my words and speak truth to my weary, happy heart. More grateful for the love and goodness of the Lord that I see evident in their lives.

I am naturally a stubborn ass. I need hard lessons and tough love and loud truth for me to understand and accept things. I rarely take anything (or anyone, for that matter) at face value. I question everything, not out of cynicism, but out of curiosity and an expectation of honesty from the world around me. I reside in the uncomfortable belief that because I demand kindness and vulnerability without motive from myself that others are doing the same. They are not, I know. I am a hopeless hopeful just the same.

As much as I hate to admit it, I needed these last three and a half years of loneliness. I needed these years because I had gotten complacent about my tribe. I loved  my people, but I did not acknowledge all that they meant to me. Now I cherish those incredible memories and any moments I get to have in the present. I am so grateful for the people who have lifted me up over the years and heard my stories and been vulnerable over countless cups of coffee sunk deep in couches in lamp-lit rooms as we pondered life and faith and love. I did not fathom then what a gift that was, nor realize that it was a gift I would not always possess. In time, I suppose. Surely there must be a fellow adventurer looking for real words over stained coffee cups in this vast state. In the meantime, for now,  I am more grateful than I was yesterday, and tomorrow will be even more grateful still. This stubborn ass has learned a valuable lesson in the power of friendship and how to be grateful in all things. Thanks be to a good God Who does not give up on me. Amen.