Most of the stories in the Bible are about the doers and the goers. The pages are filled with stories of great men and women who heeded the call and followed God into the heat of battle whether figurative or literal. Noah built an ark, Moses led a people to freedom and Esther made the wager of a lifetime. David fought, Peter preached and Paul globetrotted while declaring the gospel to all corners of his world.
What you don’t find a whole lot of in scripture is stories about the ones who stayed behind. The equippers and enablers don’t get a tremendous amount of press. I wish they did. I wish there was a story about Peter’s wife as he went off to preach to thousands at the Pentecost. Did some part of her long to accompany him? Did Solomon’s best friend occasionally ache for just a bit of his notoriety and glory? As Miriam walked alongside her brother Moses, did she ever feel a pang of jealousy wishing her role was greater, her impact more notable? Maybe not, but I like to think that somewhere along the way, some of the ones who stayed behind felt a sadness at their position and wondered when it would be their turn to go, to do.
I am ready for my turn. I am a stay-at-home mom and by extension, I am usually left behind. The last twelve and a half years of my life have been spent equipping and enabling my children and husband to realize their potential and chase their dreams. I have also supported friends around me as they pursue their passions. I have watched kids, donated to mission trips and embraced the role of prayer partner from my living room. As family and friends have adventures and blossom in their respective arenas, I cheer from the sidelines and wish them well on their journeys. They are going. They are doing. And it feels like all I am doing is laundry and dishes. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children and I have no regrets about the choice I made to stay home and raise them. But I find that I am now in the autumn of this journey and I am anxious for what is next. And my heart aches. For adventure. For impact. For something more than my normal.
In the midst of all of this, I took my usual course and scoured scripture for some clarity, some reassurance that I am where God wants me. I came upon one of my old favorites, the story of Mary and Martha. I have generally felt that I am much more of a Martha. Perhaps due to the mention of preparation and serving, it seemed that much of my time was spent being a Martha. Today, however, I see the story in a new light and it gives me hope. If I look at the example in a larger light, I can liken Martha to those around me that are going and serving and doing while I, Mary, sit home. But although Mary is sitting, it is where she is sitting that is significant. She sits at the feet of Jesus. And she listens. I’m sure that Mary got up later that day. I’m sure she worked and went and did. But at that moment she recognized her opportunity to spend time with her Lord and she seized it. And it occurred to me that maybe this is exactly what is before me right now; an opportunity to sit, an opportunity to listen, an opportunity to be still and be available.
I find that amazing things happen when I am still. The day my good friend left for Africa was the day before my husband left for eight days. I was feeling lonely, left behind and small. I decided to call another good friend that I hadn’t spoken with in months. As we spoke, God’s timing was revealed and I was awestruck. The night before the phone call, my friend had made a very difficult and sad life decision and hadn’t been able to process it with anyone. And in that moment, we both realized that God had made me available that morning for her. He had stilled my life so that I might be led to that very instant. So that I might listen to his leading and be obedient. And as I listened to my dear friend weep and lament what was coming, my heart tore for her and yet, I was profoundly grateful for the intersection of our lives at just the right time.
It makes me wonder if Martha would’ve missed that. Would she have been so busy being busy that she would’ve learned weeks later what had transpired? I’m certainly not minimizing Martha’s passion to serve. There are times for that. Countless children of God have gone, have led, have fought and because of them the gospel has reached millions. Going and doing is critical, it is necessary and it is admirable beyond words. But for me, for now, I need to learn to rest in being a Mary. I need to see being left behind as a blessing rather than a burden. I need to take this energy I use lamenting my lot and use it to steer my heart towards God.
I am certain that I will go. Someday. I will pursue my passions and have adventures beyond my wildest expectations. But today I will sit. I will be still. I will be available. I will listen.