My default programme is to be busy. I'm not good at relaxing or allowing myself space to breath and permanently have a 'To Do' list as long as my arm; a mental one that swirls around in my head 24/7.
Are you familiar with this quote? There seems to be some debate on Google as to whether it was said by Lucille Ball on Benjamin Franklin, but I would prefer to go with the latter!
Largely due to my own obvious frantic nature, that 'person' is often me and for a very long time, I didn't given myself permission to say 'No'. To anything. Without getting too deep, I think the reasons are probably a complex mix of duty and flattery.
What changed in 2015?
Two things changed for me last year:
1) I began considering my response before giving it.
2) I started to recognise that 'no' is a perfectly acceptable (and often vital) response.
Not answering immediately has given me space to think and time to consider if this 'opportunity' is something God really wants me involved in (yes I know I've been a Christian almost 40 years, some of us are quicker on the uptake than others!).
Understanding that by saying "No" I might disappoint the other person but I would never disappoint God, has been hugely releasing. Remembering who I am serving, is a key part of that.
In 2015 I was asked to get involved in a number of different things, both inside church and outside. One of the key opportunities was to volunteer at our church on a Tuesday, taking on the role of Communications Manager.
I am passionate about communication. It came out as my number 1 strength on the Strengths Finder course and I spend my whole day communicating with people both online and in real life. I love it!
An obvious "Yes" then, surely?
My instinct said "Yes" but I still needed to weigh up the pros and cons. The old me would have jumped straight in without discussing it with my husband or considering the implications. The new me mulled it over for 6 weeks and agreed to trialling it for a term.
I'm pleased to say that it's going well and I think I am in a place where God wants me right now. Of course it has had a knock on effect in a few areas of our family life and I've had to learn to set clear boundaries so that it doesn't encroach too much on other commitments, but on the whole? I feel very positive about it.
But what about Mary?
I think most of us are either a clear Mary OR a Martha. However what God really wants from us is to strike a balance between the two. I realised earlier in the week that unless I am disciplined, Martha always takes over. Almost without noticing. I read the following verse in my bible notes this week and it hit home again....
'Martha was distracted with much serving...."Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
In his commentary, 'Grace for the Moment', Max Lucado goes on to write:
Martha's aim was to please Jesus. But she made a common, yet dangerous mistake. As she began to work for him, her work became more important than her Lord. What began as a way to serve Jesus, slowly and subtly became a way to serve herself....She has forgotten that the meal is to honour Jesus, not Martha.
Perhaps like me, you fall into this trap without really noticing it. I think it can be a huge stumbling block for anyone whose work is primarily in a church environment. Last year I learnt to say the right kind of 'Yes'. This year I'm going to remember why I said 'yes' and who I'm doing it for. Will you join me?