By: Anita Cook
I wish that I knew then, what I know now… Come to think of it; I say that way more frequently the more seasoned I become. Early on in ministry, a visit to our house with little or no notice would send me into a frenzied state. And oh, my poor family–I turned into a lunatic as I frantically assigned each warm body something to do before people arrived. I was a Martha in overdrive. Even now it saddens me as I think about the strain I put on my husband and boys in my efforts to impress others with my momentarily pristine home.
Understand that I would love to have a tidy, picturesque home all of the time; that’s just not realistic in every season of life. In fact, “All of the time” is completely impossible in most seasons. Life and ministry are always happening and, for most of us, at a faster pace than we’d like. As women in ministry who are wives and mommas first, how do these two worlds mesh together healthily, and is that even possible?
Yes, sweet sister, it is, but it will require a letting go and an inviting in.
First, we have to get real with ourselves. We care way too much about what people will think and cringe if every room in our house isn’t the vision of a model home leaping off the pages of the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens.
Sisters, we have some seriously unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Did it ever occur to you that those we lead are watching, learning, and trying to emulate our example? I have often wondered what weighty mantle we are passing on to the young pastor’s wives and ministry wives among us. By our example, do we inadvertently set them up to struggle, or even feel as though they are failing because of these self-imposed and unrealistic standards?
Is the message we’re living out different than what we teach? Are we Marthas disguised as Marys? I think that often the answer is, “Yes.”
So, where do we go from here? So glad you asked. What does Jesus say is most important? You guessed it.
We were created to be in relationship with God and people. Isn’t that what Jesus taught in Luke 10?
He encouraged Martha to choose relationships over tasks. To do that in those crazy times with littles, we must invite these women into our world–our real world. The messy, children-and-dog-driving-you-nuts world. Let’s face it, sisters, going out for coffee or lunch isn’t always convenient or practical. We can’t possibly keep up with and meet every woman who desires quality time with us outside of the home. It won’t be like that forever, but in the times that it is, let’s be real.
Invite people over anyway. I’ve found that it’s okay to fold laundry over a cup of coffee. More often than not they’ll pitch in, and you’ll be done in a jiffy. The relationships that grow and memories made will be what people remember most. They’ll be beyond thankful that you made time to invite them into your perfectly imperfect world and, in the process, learn from your example that being in relationship with one another is the higher value in every season, even the messy ones.
We must get past our need to appear as though we consistently have it all together. Those watching us need to see laundry piled high on the couch and dishes in the sink. They need to see us makeup-free, in workout clothes, and hair in a pony tail.
It’s time to let them see us, sisters–the real us. The perfectly imperfect us.