Monday, December 16, 2019

There's Magic For You Too

I've started a little tradition of writing a Christmas essay every year. You can read my essay from 2018 here, from 2017 here, and from 2015 here (I had a baby in December of 2016, nothing traditional happened that year). This essay is a little different than the usual ones, but I hope it still resonates with someone out there.

Luke 10: 38-42

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman name Martha received him into her house.

39 And she had a sister called Mary which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, does thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.

41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

As a child, I loved Christmas. It was beautiful and twinkly and magical!

But my mother hated it. I never understood this. How can you hate Christmas?

Now I am a mother, and I understand a little bit more. She hated Christmas because someone has to create the magic, and creating the magic is exhausting.

It is my job now to create the magic. The magic doesn’t make itself! Someone has to mail the Christmas cards! Someone has to make the neighbor gifts, and the teacher gifts! Someone has to find the perfect garland for the mantle, because it’s not going to find itself! Someone has to make the gingerbread cookies, and volunteer at the class parties, and find the baby sitter for the office party, and buy the tickets for the show, and plan all the activities! Someone has to buy the presents and wrap the presents and fill the stockings! And my goodness, someone has to make all that food! All the holiday food, for all the guests!

I am the host now, and I am cumbered about with much serving. I am careful and troubled about many things.

And honestly, I have a lot of sympathy for Martha. People need to be fed, or they get grumpy. Guests need to be taken care of. Children need to be put down for naps, and fed, and bathed, and put to bed. Dishes need to be washed. Houses need to be cleaned. Work needs to be done! There is so much work that always needs to be done, and so much more work at this time of year. It is good work too. Work in the service of other people. Work to make them happy, to give them magic. Sometimes I feel a little bit annoyed with Jesus’ rebuke of Martha. She was cumbered about serving him! She was feeding him! Making things clean for him!

And all the work I do at Christmas time, all the magic I create, is for Him too! I’m serving my family and loved ones, I’m spreading His love, and I’m helping my children to feel the magic not just of this season, but the magic of His love. It is a good work, a good service to be cumbered about with.

But I’m also exhausted.

And I feel the itching, the scratching at the back of my mind. “Mary hath chosen that good part.”

Christ did not say that Martha’s work was pointless. He did not say that feeding and caring for others was wrong, or sinful, or that Martha wasn’t doing good. He simply pointed out that while nurturing others was a wonderful thing, it was not wonderful to the point of neglecting her own soul. There is good, and there is better, and there is best.

Yes, someone needs to make the food and do the dishes. But no one will starve if Martha sits down for a minute to take care of herself first. The Lord was gently reminding Martha, and all the wonderful hostesses and nurturers and caregivers in the world that their own salvation matters too.

So this Christmas, I’m choosing the good part. Oh, sure, I’m still hosting my family and will spend hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. I’m still wrapping all the presents and delivering all the neighbor gifts and making as much magic happen as I can. But I will find as many moments as I can to sit and listen. To feel my Savior, and what He has to say to me this time of year. I deserve to be nurtured and spiritually fed too. I deserve to feel the magic.

And so do all my fellow mothers and homemakers and hostesses out there. Yes, we are careful and troubled about many things. But we deserve to be nurtured too, and our Lord will nurture us if we take the time to stop and listen. We can stop making the magic happen for others and, at least for a minute, bask in the magic the Lord is making for us. We can stop cooking and baking all the things for just a moment to sit and eat of the Bread of Life. Things will not fall apart. The world will go on spinning. The Lord gave Martha permission, and you have it too. Permission to take care of your soul.

What does it matter if we make Christmas so magical for everyone else that we forget to feel it ourselves?

And so, if you feel yourself hating the season just little bit, if you are feeling the stress, the anxiety, the pressure of doing all the things, if you are feeling careful and troubled about many things, and feel like lashing out “Lord, dost thou not care that my (insert husband, sister, mother, father, children, friends, world) hath left me to serve alone!” then maybe that’s a clue that you need to stop for a moment. Take a seat. Listen. Choose the good part.

There’s magic for you too.

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