First it was the holidays and company, followed by a week-long ski trip in January and in-between preparations for these major events there was always work and an endless ‘to-do’ list of everyday tasks that seems to have kept my hands and mind occupied for what is beginning to feel like many months. And while I look back at all the house cleaning, laundry, and meal preparations that were done I wonder, did I do the things that I really long to do – read, write, take long walks, visit with friends, laugh with family, and cherish each moment lived fully – or did those opportunities just slip past me?
I chide myself for my Martha personality. Why can’t I be like Mary and just let everything else go unattended and unconcerned? Why must I be “distracted with much serving” like Martha? And yet, I wonder…was it Martha’s actions or her anxious attitude for which she was gently scolded? Are we “distracted with much serving” when we serve out of duty rather than love? Can we serve and still be fully present in the moment?
Although like Martha I may waste precious time worrying and fretting about the unimportant things that I would like to see done before the holidays, before company arrives, or before we leave for our trip, but I must also remember that much of my labor was spent serving my family and our guests. I hope it was a labor of love spent to provide in the best way possible for their comfort. I could have spent more time reading and writing and less time preparing, but much of my preparations were done in advance so that I could spend more time enjoying those special moments together with those I love.
I wonder if the Martha scolding I really need is for my selfish retrospective attitude? Maybe it is not the time spent preparing, serving, and enjoying those I love that I have wasted, but the time spent selfishly longing to recapture what was spent that is wasted. Looking back, I see there was beauty in the moments that I thought were wasted – beauty in moments I gladly sacrificed to serve my family. There was beauty – and oh so many cherished memories – in time spent just enjoying my family. So why do I find myself wishing to recapture that time for myself? If my time was gratefully spent, why do I feel as though I’ve just been distracted and delayed? Like a child who has acted on impulse and given away her favorite toy to a best friend only to wish for it back later, I have gratefully given my time only to begrudgingly wish for it back. If I can see God’s hand even in the moments I thought I lost, why would I ever wish for those moments back?
Perhaps I could have found time to write more, perhaps I could have read more, perhaps I could have visited more and served less, but just as I must trust the future to God’s sovereignty, I also must trust the past to His grace. There is a time and a season for all things and now may be the time to put housework and unimportant daily chores into perspective, but pining over yesterday’s lost moments will not retrieve them. All I can do about yesterday is decide how I will view the past – as distracted and delayed or as gratefully spent. I cannot relive the past nor can I snatch back the moments that are gone – despite my selfish desires – but I can look for the evidence of His grace in the memories of yesterday, cherish those moments past, and trust tomorrow to His providence.