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Habits of Purpose for the Anxious Soul

by | Tue, Jun 28 2022

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By Susan Elsmore

Recently I had the joy of babysitting my beautiful granddaughter Aurelia, watching her run around and get excited over even the smallest of things. There was laughter and squeals of excitement – pure, unfiltered joy!

Until suddenly she was done. She just stopped! Put her face against the window and crumbled. Pure, unfiltered exhaustion!

As I sat there and watched Aurelia, I found myself thinking, I know exactly how you feel.

Last year I experienced burnout. I had been busy doing so many things, on the go constantly and barely stopping.

Don’t get me wrong, they were all good things! I loved seeing what God was doing and how He was using me. He was growing me in my capacity and leadership, and I experienced so much joy.

Until I stopped. Like Aurelia, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t go on.

Since coming back to work after some time off to recover, I’ve tried to be very intentional about putting good boundaries in place; to create margin in my life so that I don’t end up there again.

Because I can’t help others unless I help myself.

In the Bible, we see this demonstrated in the story of Mary and Martha. Martha hurries to ensure the preparations are complete for Jesus’s visit, while Mary simply sits at His feet. Mary soaks in the moment, but Martha can’t think past the cooking and cleaning.

Maybe you too are feeling pressure from different aspects of your life. Like Martha, I’m guilty at times of coming to Jesus and saying – this isn’t fair. And like Martha in those moments, I don’t always like the answer.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

That hurts! Jesus is actually telling Martha that Mary is doing what’s best.  He speaks straight to the heart of her issue. But how do we find Mary moments in our busy Martha world? How do we prioritise what is better?

PRIORITY ONE: Quiet the distractions. 

If Jesus was in front of you right now, would your first thought be to make everything perfect? Or to stop and spend time with Him?

When we fully grasp the priorities of heaven, our own priorities and habits should change.

Jesus is extending the same invitation to you that He extended to Martha. Get rid of the distractions any way you can so that you can accept the invitation to sit at His feet.

PRIORITY TWO: Choose what is better.

The fact that Mary dared to sit at the feet of Jesus shows that she hungered for Godly teaching. The perfume she poured on His feet is described as expensive, and anointing someone’s body is a deeply personal thing.

Mary cared more about showing her devotion to Jesus, even when it looked excessive and scandalous, than she did about public opinion.

It’s time to stop rushing and worrying in Martha world and take a seat in Mary world. To care less about what others think and care more about your devotion to God.

Find ways that you connect best with God and go there often. Don’t feel guilty if you have to keep changing it up. Whether it’s in solitude, in worship, in nature, or with people who spur you on.

Sit at His feet, find rest for your anxious and weary soul, learn from Him and let Him lighten your load. You might have to get creative to find your Mary moments, but don’t give up! Jesus invites us because He knows it’s the better thing.

What can you do to step out of Martha world and into Mary world today?

About the author: Susan is Associate Pastor at Gateway Baptist Church, and is a mentor and coach with Partners in Ministry. She is passionate about creating authentic communities where people can find a place to belong, grow and thrive in their relationships with each other and with God.