We’re trained to be helpful and selfless; freely giving our gifts is encouraged and lauded. While this is true and admirable, the standard should be to help others without losing yourself. Far too often, we give and give, only to be left depleted.
But, they need me
I hadn’t thought about the weeks after the explosion for quite a while. As I started outlining this message, the memories came flooding back.
On a beautiful July 3rd five years ago, our world was changed in an instant. There was an explosion at my dad’s grain mill. In an instant, a fireball had surrounded him and left him severely burned. My husband raced to the mill. Hysterically, I called my friend and gathered the kids. Dad was on the way to the local hospital. And in short order, we were as well.
Vivid memories remain of the weeks that followed, but much is also a blur. He was transferred that same day to a burn unit at a large hospital. My days were split between sitting with my dad in the hospital and trying to manage the end of the wheat harvest. Back and forth from the hospital to home, I did what I could to help with his care, give my stepmom a break, and make sure his business continued.
I’m not sure who took care of our kids while I was at the hospital; I assume it was my husband. Those parts are fuzzy. For sure, my son rode in the combines with one of dad’s employees on a few occasions.
At one point, my husband made a remark that sticks with me still. “Don’t lose yourself in this.” In the urgency surrounding me, I was on the verge of losing myself as well.
Distracted by serving
She gets a bad wrap far too often—Martha.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.” (Luke 10:38-40a, emphasis added)
Imagine sending an invitation to someone you admire, a person of influence. Now, think about what would happen if they accepted. What comes to mind immediately—cleaning, cooking, shopping, anxiousness?
Martha had welcomed the most important religious leader of her day into her home. Everyone was watching. Of course, she wanted the house to be tidy and a great meal served. Not only was she playing hostess-with-the-mostest, but she was also entertaining someone she greatly admired. This was hospitality, religion, and culture colliding in her home. Imagine trying to balance all of that with a pleasant smile and cool demeanor.
She was doing her best
She was bound to crack. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” (Luke 10:40)
At some point, we’ve all felt the same way. We understand Martha. Creating a great experience for Jesus was important to her. She was doing her best. The problem—she was distracted.
“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42)
Martha needed the same reminder we need—help others without losing yourself and what’s most important. Don’t become so distracted by serving that you forget what you really need. Martha needed to spend time with Jesus and be renewed. Being with Jesus was what Martha needed to be her best.
Help others without losing yourself
I didn’t intend to make caring for my dad or finishing wheat harvest take over my life. Emergencies happen and some things need to be done.
Martha probably didn’t intend to ignore Jesus’ teachings in favor of cooking dinner. As I read her words, I hear a woman who wants a little help so the work gets done quicker and she can join the party. If my reading is accurate, I understand where she’s coming from.
Either way, there are moments when each of us will face the same dilemma. Do we give more, even if we deplete ourselves? How long do we give and do before we take a break?
Only you know the right answer for your situation.
You cannot give if you have nothing left. In whatever situation you find yourself, help others without losing yourself. Don’t allow your identity to become too entwined with your cause. Even in times of great need, don’t neglect your spiritual health and connection with Jesus. Find a way to rest and be refreshed.
Your Next Steps:
Carve out time for yourself. Choose an activity. Set the time. Schedule it in your calendar. Then, take care of yourself.