I dream about water when I feel out of control.
I think it all starts with the trauma related to potty training, but that is a poorly developed theory, nor can I site any reliable studies. So there you have it, an unreliable hunch.
There are a lot of expectations that involve control of bodily fluids in our society, including urine, nasal drip, tears, and sweat glands. (I purposely left out regurgitation, my blog, my rules) But control is the real issue. This is what we are being taught from an early age. If my mom said it once, she said it a thousand times, “control yourself Cheryl.”
Now I’m forced to buy extra strength deodorant, daytime antihistamines, 2-ply toilet paper, and expensive perfumes from someone named Tiffany, Chanel, or Charlie. Strange there are no perfumes named after me?
Last night’s dream involved a tsunami, I think a big wave would have sufficed, but no, a wall of water is where my imagination went. I was floating on a raft, sipping a beer, when I glanced to the left, and there she was, rolling in fast. The beer survived. I never saw the raft again.
I hold my coffee carefully this morning considering what I actually have control over?
Nothing, absolutely nothing…
“Martha, Martha you worry about many things but Mary has chosen what is good and this will not be taken from her,” says Jesus to a very anxious Martha.
This is the advice Martha gets from God no less when she’s feeling out of control. Imagine, God drops in on you for dinner with an entourage of friends, and your sister Mary sits in the living room sipping wine, while you slave away in the kitchen trying to pretend you’re Martha Stewart, but you live in the first century. I totally get Martha, but I digress.
Now Mary, “the one who has chosen what is good,” is also the one who anointed Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume, wiping it up with her hair. She was reprimanded by those who observed this emotional display and deemed it wasteful, but Jesus said, “leave her alone, she has done what she could; she has anointed my body, and she will be remembered kindly.” [adapted]
Really? What about a kind mention of Martha’s fabulous dinner? Not a single word in any of the four gospels. Maybe I totally missed the point? (I realize this is not hard to fathom.) What is so good about Mary’s choices, well you’ve come to the right place, because I have a hunch.
I spend much of my time instructing students on church teaching (if you’re hyperventilating, take a breath), leaving me confused on occasion by the disparity of what I believe, and what I speak. Maybe we all feel this way? I love the event of summer because it allows me the time to watch what I do. This is when our truth comes out to play.
I am often at the sink rinsing glass after glass, placing them into the upper section of the dishwasher, and I realize we are all so thirsty. Jesus offers a different kind of water, one that leaves you satiated, full, and a spring of everlasting life. This water does not come in a bottle. This is what Mary was after. Intriguing, I know.
When my children were small I read something about how often parents have to say “no.” No you can’t stay out all night, no you can’t have ice cream before dinner, no that behavior is unacceptable, and absolutely no screaming while the baby is sleeping.
This parental expert advised us to say “yes” whenever possible to compensate for all the required boundaries. I don’t know why but it stuck with me through the years, maybe because I have stayed out all night, had ice cream for dinner, entertained numerous displays of unattractive behavior, and raised my voice a time or two when the baby was sleeping.
I should have said yes you can disagree with me, yes you can go, yes it will hurt, yes I will help, yes it is unfair, yes you can yell, yes I forgive you, yes we can do better, yes it is okay to fail, yes I love you.
The lovely Fred Rogers says, “I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else.” Can I get an amen for moms here?
I have control over one thing.
While Martha was frazzled, Mary was relaxed (I’m sure the wine helped), it’s a choice, and a positive attitude can not be taken from you. It is our gift to those we love. You can not do it on your own, it is called grace, because we are all traumatized from potty training.
Seth Godin says it best.
“But there’s one place where you can make your mark: Your attitude.
You can bring more generosity of spirit, more enthusiasm, more kindness, more resilience, more positive energy, more bravery and more magic to the room than anyone else, at least right now. Because you choose to.“
Martha and Mary are two of the most relatable female characters in the bible, their BFF is Jesus, who teaches them that which is good. He says “let the one who thirsts come to me and drink, you will never be thirsty again.” We are vulnerable human beings, but when we choose that which is good, we become a blessing to others, the rest is out of our control.