A new year. A new beginning. A time to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future. What worked, and what didn’t. What was great, and what wasn’t. What was accomplished, and what was left undone.
Like many of you, at the start of each new year I spend time reflecting on the past year and planning for the upcoming year. I think I’ve said it before……I’m sort of a planner junkie. I like things neatly mapped out with hopes of accomplishing a new set of goals. Organizing and writing down my thoughts helps me to stay on track. And so, you’ll find me doing this at the start of a new year, but also routinely throughout the year. Sunday nights tend to be mini sessions for me before the start of each new week. But, who am I kidding, you’ll probably also find me rewriting my to-do list at the end of each day for the following day….often times carrying over undone items from the day. It can be a very purposeful exercise in staying organized. However, I sometimes get so caught up in the goals that I fail to enjoy the present.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.Matthew 6:34
Present. As an adjective, it is defined as “being in a particular place.” Merely being is difficult for me. I like to be doing. If you ask me to ride in the car to travel, I’m usually packed full with things to do while riding. If you ask me to sit patiently in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, I’ve brought something to work on or read so that time is not wasted. SLOWING down is sometimes VERY difficult for me. My dear friend Kelley asked me a few years back to give yoga a try with her. Sure I thought! Can I tell you that it lasted all of one session? Instead of concentrating on my breathing or form, I was making mental lists of the next day’s activities and grocery run. Oiy.
I am not the only one who struggles with this. Americans in generally are conditioned for hustle and bustle. Some refer to it as the hamster wheel of life. When you combine our culture with a driven personality such as my own, it can be a recipe for loss. A loss of special moments, time with others, memories, joy, etc. Unfortunately, being present does not come naturally for me. And, I’d be willing to bet, that many of you struggle with the same thing…..especially if you have kids!
In Luke’s Gospel account of Martha and Mary, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been Martha. As Jesus entered the village, Mary and Martha graciously welcomed Him into their home. While there, Mary spent time at Jesus’ feet listening intently to Him. Martha, on the other hand, was scurrying about distracted with serving. Eventually, Martha – annoyed that she was doing all the work while Mary sat – finally approached Jesus and said “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” She was clearly frustrated.
Ha! I love this because I can actually see myself having done this exact thing – only under my breath or in confidence to someone else in the room. The Lord quickly answered Martha saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Ok, let’s just pause for a moment and be honest here. I think I would have been like “You for real Jesus? Somebody has to do the work around here! The food doesn’t just appear on the table!”
But, Jesus’ point is clear:
In this particular scenario, the good portion was time with Him, and hospitality was a matter of the heart, not the meal.
If you asked my husband, he would tell you without hesitation that I like things to be (as he’s affectionately coined) “just so.” Certainly one of my best qualities, yet also one of my greatest downfalls. Whether it’s hospitality, decor, family traditions, meals, work, etc., I like things to be “just so.” So much so, that I sometimes lose the blessing that comes with simply being present. It’s an even greater struggle with the daily commotion and distractions within our busy life.
Therefore, I’ve set what I’m calling an “umbrella” goal this year…..overarching all of my ambitions. Like Mary, it is to embrace being present. I want to lessen my concern for perfection and savor being in the moment. After all, we are only promised today. My husband is naturally more content with being in the moment. He always jokes with me that I am always two steps ahead. Of course, I say he is always two steps behind! Nonetheless, there is something to be learned from him. Like Mary, he easily realizes the importance of being present.
How about you? Do you need to be more intentional with being present in the upcoming year? If yes, what do you need to worry less about? At the end of the day, it’s the love and memories that carry forward with us in our hearts that matter most.