Why is it that I love my children SO MUCH but it’s SO HARD to sit down and play pretend with them?
Why is it so much easier to prioritize dishes, laundry, paying bills, working, and just about anything else over sitting on the floor and spending time making eye contact and laughing with my children?
I think it’s because I like success.
I like to cross a task off my list.
I like to start with a job, and be able to look back and see that I accomplished something by the time I’m done with it.
I like to see a visible difference by the time I’m done with something.
I get that satisfaction with household tasks and with work, but I don’t get that satisfaction with the things that matter most.
The reality is that things like creating emotionally healthy kids, developing a closer walk with God, working on personal growth, or creating a healthy and physically fit body don’t happen overnight. They take a lot of time before you see any results from your labor. And sometimes the changes are so small and happen over such a long period of time that you don’t even realize them.
It is so much easier to devote time to the more pressing needs that we see immediate results from, than it is to devote large amounts of time to things that don’t give us those immediate results. To make matters worse, when we are devoting time to the unseen things, sometimes the seen things fall apart some and make it look like we’ve done nothing all day!
The story of Mary and Martha teaches me so much about how Jesus values being present.
Luke 10:38-42 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So Mary threw the “to do” list out the window and just sat at Jesus’ feet. It says “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks…”
Oh how often does that describe me? Distracted by my many tasks.
Not only is she distracted – she’s upset. She’s filled with righteous indignation about her sister who’s not pulling her fair share of the weight. I can just see her walking around the house in a huff, rehearsing her argument in her head. Then she goes before Jesus to point out how inconsiderate her sister is being in letting her do all of the work by herself and instead Jesus calls her out.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Ouch. That stings. Not only did Jesus not back her, but he actually told her that MARY was the one who had it right and SHE was the one who had it backwards!
I love that because I identify so much with Martha. Worried and upset about many things.
But Mary knew how to just sit and be present.
Jesus values being present.
It’s okay if the dishes pile up sometimes and it’s okay if the laundry never gets folded. He’s calling us to sit and be unhurried before Him. To listen without rushing off to the next task. I think He’s pleased when we do the same with our children as well – to slow down, sit on the floor with them, and make eye contact. To engage with them without rushing to the next task. To be unhurried and present.
I’ve realized I need a perspective shift in my mothering. I have been practicing intentionally placing a higher priority on the things that matter most but that don’t yield immediate results and I place them first in my day. I am intentional about those things. Then at the end of the day when the clothes aren’t folded or my floor didn’t get swept and mopped I literally make a list of the good things I did that day. I’m working on creating space to do things like sit on the floor with my kids with no agenda – no set task before us. Just making eye contact, talking, being silly, singing songs, etc. I’ll be honest – at first it kind of feels like wasting time. It feels like I’m not really doing anything. But the reality is that those things are deposits into my kids’ love banks.
When my kids are grown I want them to remember that I always had time for them.
I want them to remember that I was approachable and not rushing around the house so fast that they couldn’t catch up with me long enough for a conversation.
I want them to remember me getting up before the sun to sit at the feet of the Lord and gain strength for the day.
I want them to remember me apologizing to them when I’m in the wrong.
I want them to remember me teaching them Bible verses and reading to them.
I want them to remember me laughing with them.
I want them to remember that we had fun together –not just that I created opportunities for them to have fun while I was a spectator on the side.
So, what about you? Will you join me in making it a goal of being unhurried and present with our children today?
P.S. Before you go…
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