I feel useless here. I know I’m not useless – I know. But I saw him in the hospital – small and weak and sleepy. My grandfather was fine in August. He was young in August. I left for school the same way I always left: with a hug, and an “I love you.” If I would’ve known that he would be so small and weak and sleepy in November, I would like to say that I would’ve said something more, in August. But how could I have known? How does something take over an entire person in just a few months? I have never seen my grandfather look old. And now, he looks old enough to make him like a child again, frail. Breakable. But all I am doing is sitting in a classroom, staring a computer, putting together hypothetical projects and trying not to complain too much (and failing, I think). I could be at the hospital, keeping him company. I could be at home, making dinners and doing laundry and putting up Christmas decorations. I could be doing so much more.
But I am giving presentations, rehearsing scenes, making up fake nonprofits, and studying for gen-ed exams. For the first time in my life, I don’t understand how school makes a difference. I can’t see how this matters.
I am such a Martha, always moving, always busy – and I think in my mind I am convinced that if only I could just be done with this semester, then I would be less Martha and more Mary, doing what really matters. I could take care of my family. I could be present and helpful. Surely, Martha is concerned with things that do not last, but Mary is content with the meaningful, busy with the important details. If only I weren’t so busy, if only I weren’t so stuck in a place where I feel useless, then perhaps I could be a better daughter, a better granddaughter, a better servant of the Lord. I could be more like Mary, if only.
Mary was busy with important things, like family and Christmas decorating and laundry and hospitals and –
“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.”
Even if I thought I could be like Mary, I think I would be an awful Mary. Because all I’d be doing is trading one busy-ness for another. One stress for another. One I-can-do-this-on-my-own mindset for another. It’s not to say that being with my family isn’t important. It is. And yes, maybe school is rightfully on the back-burner. But something is broken inside of me, and being in another place, even if I would be better off there for now, isn’t going to fix me.
Martha was stressed. She was concerned with the world: with fixing dinner and tidying the house because oh my word the Lord was in her home.
The Lord was in her home. But her mind was in a thousand other places besides. So is mine. I feel useless because unless I am sitting at the feet of Christ, I am.
So what do I do? I listen when he tells me that I need to glorify God in my schoolwork. I trust God to have perfect timing. I believe my mom, who reminds me that next week will come quickly. I whisper it to myself over and over: The Lord is with you. You are going to be okay. You are going to be taken care of.
And I pray, with fervor from some dusty corner of my heart, for healing and miracles and peace if miracles do not come. I pray for my hurting friends, by busy friends, my patient, loving, beautiful friends. I am loved in different ways, and I do not understand how I deserved any of it. And I am allowed to love, too. I am selfish and broken, but I am loved and I love. As death and stillness hang over me, abundant joy surrounds me, engulfs me. Nativities appear around me, delicate porcelain babies placed in tiny mangers meant to remind me of the One who vanquished death and stillness.
It doesn’t feel vanquished. Right now, it feels powerful.
“But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'”
So until I find the feet of my Lord, setting aside the projects and the exams and the hospitals and the laundry, I will find purpose in none of it. The desert is getting tiresome now. I have been here for too long, dancing on the edge of the mirage and convincing myself that I spend enough time in the oasis to justify my wanderings. Lead me to the well, draw up a bucket of the good stuff, the living stuff, and pull me into the living room. I will pull up a patch of floor, and I will listen to Him here. This will not be taken away from me.