I’ve been struggling lately with trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing on a daily/regular basis here in Budapest. It’s all part of an ongoing ‘mid-life’ crisis I’ve been pondering for the past several years, as the kids need me less and as we have simultaneously made some big family transitions. The last year in Colorado was very full of all the kids’ activities, my own PTO and Girl Scout leading, the groups we lead at church and then planning ahead to our big overseas move. I was too busy to really ponder such deep thoughts, but they were there, at the back of my mind. What am I going to be when I grow up? And now as I’m approaching my 40th Birthday, and as a family we’re getting more settled, inside I have been less and less settled – unable to shake the need to justify my existence with an explanation of what I do exactly, preferably within the parameters of Christian ‘ministry’.
When we first arrived in Szeged in 2011, God clearly communicated to us over and over, through many verses, many different pastors’ teachings jumping out at us, that we were to just be, to not do, to wait and simply live in Hungary. We thankfully had a wonderful church and pastor behind us in Colorado that were okay with us going out as ‘missionaries’ without any clear cut plans or agenda. But that was still really hard for me. And then our family went through so many struggles, and just living life was a huge battle for me daily, that I was thankful we had nothing else to add to our plate. Our plate has gotten lighter, somewhat easier, and my questioning and unease has begun again. What’s ironic is that I love, love, love the simple ‘ministry’ God has given us – that of encouraging church leadership around us, of hosting the Pastor’s and Pastor’s Wives Retreats we’re able to do a few times a year so far. So where is this idea, this unease coming from? Why do I feel I must do more – not be more, but do?
I’m in a Women’s Bible Study group that meets every Wednesday morning, and the book we just finished was ‘Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World’ by Joanna Weaver. I highly recommend it. It encouraged me to seek out Jesus, to sit at His feet as Mary, and to evaluate all my busyness and see if they are things God would really have me do. But yet, when I look back at how busy my life once was, I don’t feel busy at all, I don’t feel like I’m a Martha running around doing. I feel more like I’m waiting for my assignment; I learned three years ago to stop all the doing.
Sunday was Palm Sunday, and the text taught from was Luke 19:28-44, often called Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, when He rode into Jerusalem on the colt and the crowds cheered and waved palm branches. Most Christians have heard the story every year Easter. This year God spoke verse 40 to me, when He had been asked to quiet the crowd and his disciples, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” It wasn’t the pastor’s point, but Norbert and I talked later about how God did not need those crowds, those people, to cheer and praise His Son – if the people had not acted, the stones would have. God does not need anyone to do anything. Why do we think we’re so indispensable to God? I’ve realized so much of my inner struggle is wrapped up in pride, pride and my upbringing in a family always in ministry. My mom has tireless energy, I think she somehow creates more energy as she exerts it – she is always doing. Her doing is beautiful and amazing and God has used my parents and their ministry to accomplish more than you would ever think two people could be capable of. But I am not my parents, their life is not my life and their assignment for God is nothing like mine. Still, I struggle, having grown up in that environment of so much activity, good, wonderful activity that I’ve seen God work through. I don’t only have the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality, I’m keeping up with the Willsons. And I’m learning daily, that that’s my pride rearing its ugly head. I think God knew that when He told me to rest, to be, and not to do. It was not as easy an assignment as it can sound – but I’m learning, and trusting. And I know, oh how I know, that God is using us here. He has placed me in this family, to love my husband and my kids. He has placed our strange mixed up family smack in the middle of Budapest for the time being, within this particular circle of friends, near particular church leadership that need our friendship. I’ll probably keep struggling, but for today and this week before Easter – I want to rest and remember that I’m not needed, that anything I ever do is an honor and a privilege, that I have been created to be and that God can always make the stones cry out, or a donkey to talk.
Your recent posting was good. neat to see how God has been releasing you from the pressure of “performance”, assuring you that your value is not based on what you do. Such an important truth.
The year that we had others overseeing our center, someone gave us a book on Mary & Martha. It helped us both to re-prioritize, after years of extreme busyness. We are still living by the truths God taught us in that year of transition…things like regular prayer walks, daily reading together of scripture as well as other helpful books, more self-care, and a renewed passion for “sitting at His feet” to hear His heart. Without journeying to that new place, we would have been blown out the water by the changes of the last few years.
We wanted to let you and Norbi know how much we admire you both, and are so proud of who you both are. You have taught us so much…you understood God’s heart for the nations long before that was much on our radar…you learned how to “travel light” and let go of stuff…and you courageously followed His leading even when it complicated your lives. Just so you know, we think what you do (and have done) is also pretty amazing.
We don’t think “retirement” is a word that followers of Jesus ever really get to use, but we now understand the wisdom of “seasons”. You guys have had various seasons. Seasons are good. The slower seasons are meant to fuel us for the fruitful ones. Martha’s burn out unless they learn how to make being close to Jesus their highest passion, like Mary did. Thank you for having hearts like Mary’s.
Have a great Easter!
Mom & Dad
I like some ‘seasons’ better than others, but am finding the beauty in them all. 😉 Love you both so much!