Alison W Faith Formation Ink Slingers Prayer

Made to Love God Without “Martha-ing” Things Up

All I want is to be is a loving Christian, a patient mother, an attentive girlfriend, a thoughtful daughter, a generous sister, a prepared employee, a worthy housekeeper, a nourishing/tasty cook, a kind friend, an energetic cheerleader, a strong supporter, and an informed catechist teacher. And let’s not forget that I want to do it all patiently and with a smile on my face.  

I’ve cried a lot of tears trying to be good at all the things. I beat myself to death for losing patience, again, with my children. I feel guilty for running through McDonalds occasionally (ok weekly). It’s hard for me to be excited about evening events after working all day. I don’t want to fix dinner and clean up the mess when I have been running for 12 hours straight.

I love the Martha story. Jesus told her, “you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed.” (Luke 10:41-42) Martha needed a dose of humility. Sometimes I need a dose of humility. I’m better at everything when I take the time to pray. I’m a better participant in life when I work in time for a daily mass. I’m happier when I reach out to other people. I’m more at peace, when I take time to really look into my children’s eyes while they are speaking to me. I feel more peace in my home when I daily pray my rosary. I can feel my soul being cleansed when I stick to a regular routine of confession.

Of course these things take more time away from time I don’t have, but the benefits of doing life while feeding your soul is worth so much. When my soul is fed, I take care of everything a lot better.

If Mary picked the better way by fixing her eyes on Jesus, why do I insist on “Martha-ing” things up? Why do I insist on putting myself in the pressure cooker of life, and in doing things on my own strength?  

See, it may be that some of the things on my to-do list are born of my own pride, so maybe I need to adjust my priorities. He will be my strength and my peace. But it is for me to be like Mary and to let Him guide my soul into becoming more patient and loving. It is for me to give myself a break sometimes, by sitting at the feet of Jesus. While it might be necessary to do the work of Martha, our souls desperately need to be like Mary.

If we keep our focus on the world and all the expectations we quickly feel defeated. We quickly feel like we are not enough. And we quickly Martha things up. But if we let Jesus love us and allow ourselves time to love Jesus, we can easily see that we were made for so much more. We were made to love God. And just letting that soak in puts a huge grin on my face and makes my heart feel so full. What makes you feel more like Mary? What makes your heart feel so full?

Books Ink Slingers Kerri Reviews

Book Review: Life from our Land by Marcus Grodi

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with stuff. We recently donated a box of clothes and other miscellany to a charity and had a garage sale to get rid of a few more things. It still doesn’t feel like enough. Like most Americans, we just have too much stuff in our house. Most of which we either don’t need or are saving for some future, as of yet to be determined, event. Christmas will be here before we know it and more things will come into our home (I have 3 small children and lots of relatives who love them). It was in this context that I read Marcus Grodi’s newest book Life from our Land: The Search for a Simpler Life in a Complex World.

Life-from-Our-LandI really enjoyed this book, and not because of any desire on my part to move to a farm or even out to the country. Anyone that knows me knows that I wouldn’t survive for very long in either situation. I am a city girl through and through. But what I most liked about this book was the emphasis on living a simpler life right where we are. That may be the country for some of us, but for many we don’t have to change our physical location to grow spiritually and in simplicity. The plethora of scripture quotes throughout the book was also a great bonus!

I’m also a fan of memoirs. While this is not intended to be a memoir, plenty of Grodi’s story is sprinkled throughout to satisfy my love of hearing people’s personal stories. I enjoyed hearing about his adventures learning to farm, taking on new challenges, and his reflections on what he learned in the process. Most importantly, how God played into everything.

It is God’s hand in all aspects of creation that leads to many of Grodi’s reflections in this book. An overabundance of berries covered in thorns teaches him that God’s bounty often comes with suffering; a sick cow that needs to be put down is a reminder that our plans are not always God’s plans. These are only two of many examples.

What I especially liked was that his reflections went far beyond the farm and land he has been working for many years. He is clear from the start of this book that these are not his thoughts “on” the land, but his thoughts “from” the land. That one word in the title makes all the difference. And I found it to be true. As someone who is quite happy in my city life, I got a lot out of this book. Grodi’s reflections on modern life, all our conveniences that often draw us away from human interaction and even further away from God’s creation, and taking a serious look at the overabundance of material wealth in the western world all hit home for me. I desire to bring more simplicity into my life and am struggling with just how to approach that. As Grodi says, “When all is done, and we stand before God, when the Book of Life is opened, when the fruit of our lives is examined, what will be important?” (p. 179) There is a lot to ponder in that one question.

In some ways the chapters in this book could stand alone, but I think it is worth reading it from end to end at least once. Now that I have read it through one time I think I could easily go back and choose a chapter to read just to spend time reflecting more on the thoughts and ideas presented in that one individual chapter.

If you are looking for a book about bringing more simplicity into your life, especially one that reflects Christian values of humility, holiness, and detachment in an effort to continue growing closer to God, this is a must read. Whether you see yourself retreating to the country to escape the fast-paced city life or not, the lessons in this book are worth considering regardless of where in life you currently find yourself.

And now I need to go figure out what other stuff in my life I can detach from.

Available from Ignatius Press in paperback, also available as an ebook.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review and no other compensation. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.