French doors grace the living room of my home. They open onto my back deck, where I like to sit in the morning, surrounded by panting dogs and chirping birds. The doors are a recent installment. Their windows allow natural light into my home. I soak it up with pleasure.
Still, the windows are always dirty.
Dog nose marks, dog slobber drips, splashes from the lawn sprinkler. The windows display constant markings of some kind or another. It is an almost daily chore to keep them clean. This chore feels completely useless in its efficacy.
No sooner do I clean one window, a dog presses their nose against it, once more requiring it to be cleaned.
My grandmother taught me how to wash windows.
Windex, paper towels, elbow action.
“Never let the Windex dry on the window,” she told me sagely. Dried Windex made me wish for Jesus to return and cause windows to never dirty again.
The windows let in sparkling light once cleaned. It almost seemed worth the effort…until some random bird flew overhead and dropped a special delight on the freshly washed surface.
The warfare of cleanliness does not merely extend to my windows. Messy floors, halfway made beds, dog fur in the corners, dust behind my TV, laundry piled in the corner.
All the work around my house—punctuated by lack of time to complete it all makes me wonder if I am enough.
Am I enough of a mother to keep a pristine house and raise polite boys?
Am I enough of an employee to be caught up at work and maintain a home as well?
Am I enough of a spouse to do the gritty work of the daily grind and still find romance for my husband?
Am I enough—achieved enough, made enough money, accomplished enough?
The typical resounding answer is usually a “Nope.”
The windows’ smudges mock me.
A story exists in Scripture of two sisters and a brother who hosted Jesus and His disciples during the course of their ministry. Jesus comes for dinner one night. The two sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother, Lazarus, were well-known in the community. They also were a favorite place for Jesus to dine.
I’m sure the pressure to perform was high. I’m sure the lamb had to be roasted to perfection, the floor swept clear of debris, and fresh water ready to wash the feet of the guests. I’m sure sweat beaded on the brows of the women.
Martha bustled around the home.
Mary sat down with the men and absorbed the words of Jesus.
Martha snapped at her sister, then at the Lord. “Tell her to come help me!”
I can only imagine the look in His eye—such compassion and grace, maybe a bit of humor. “Martha, you are so troubled about all these things, but Mary has chosen a good thing. I’m not taking that away from her.”
I can only imagine the silence that followed His straight-forward statement, for Martha too was invited to sit at Jesus’ feet. Her actions of preparing supper and caring for guests were not snubbed by Jesus, rather He noted that Mary had chosen a good thing by herself. No amount of scolding from Martha would change His mind.
Notice that Jesus did not command Mary not to go help her sister. He simply stated that she had chosen something better.
The point is not that my house can be dirty. It’s just that more important factors also exist in my world.
It’s okay to choose other things.
As women, we often suffer in a corner as we shoulder much responsibility both at home and in the workplace. I don’t purposefully take time for myself or ask for help when I need it before I crumble. I too easily adopt Martha’s attitude of “Why isn’t someone helping me?” instead of choosing to help myself.
Why is the floor again covered in crumbs?
Why is my email flooded again with messages?
Another piece of paperwork to fill out, another bill to pay, another question to answer…
Some days, the pressure feels unbearable. I think I may snap. I certainly feel the bitterness of Martha’s soul.
But Mary dared to choose something for herself before serving others. Instead of making her a selfish woman, it made her calm and strengthened her availability.
Before Christ became man, He was with God in the beginning. Resting in His eternal glory. Being Himself and knowing that He was all in all.
What if I started operating from the premise that I already have all I need? I am already enough. What if I spent time calming my heart, pausing in the presence of the Divine, and claiming His peace over my chaos? What if I gave myself permission to fill my own soul before filling the needs of others?
Perhaps my heart, mind, and body would be healthier.
Psalm 23:1 in The Passion Translation states, “The Lord is my Best Friend and Shepherd. I always have more than enough.”
More than enough love to go around. More than enough peace for troubled times. More than enough joy to cover the hard things. More than enough grace to be a parent. More than enough desire for a strong marriage.
More than enough energy for the next round of window washing.
Living out of Mary’s delight has become my new focus.
This focus is why lately, Saturdays have been “goof off days” (as my son likes to call them). After the week of schedules and work and school and discipline, Saturday is a day to rest. I am intentionally not doing work on this day. I choose activities that bring me joy, bring me closer to God, or bring me closer to my family. I walk past dishes. I leave spots on the floor. The bed is unmade. The laundry is unfolded. I don’t check emails or respond to them. Anything that could remotely be understood to be work, on this one day, is scoffed and scorned.
I just sit at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes He is at the park with my kids. Sometimes He is at the movies. Sometimes He is in my comfy bed for an afternoon nap.
And I know that I am loved. I am a child of God, a Divine daughter. This identity stamps my life with approval, even if I didn’t finish everything I wanted to finish in a week. Even if I messed up at parenting. Even if I was grouchy at work. Even if I was angry at my husband.
I am a King’s Daughter, afforded all the rights and privileges thereto, which means my soul can rest. I can fill up with peace. I can sit down when I need to do so.
Tomorrow….I’m going to wash that window.