I am not the shepherd; I am a sheep
April 11, 2016
-Anna Fitch Courie
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 O save your people, and bless your heritage;
be their shepherd, and carry them forever.
Psalm 28:7-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
When I am not a pen-wielding defender of the written word, slaying thoughts and feelings through creative use of the English language, I am a wife and mother.
The first sounds so sexy. The second…well…many days, sexy does not even cross my mind. Like many moms or mother figures, I juggle a job, household stuff, parenting, being a spouse, volunteering in the community, and trying to be an engaged member of the church. It is often exhausting, and it is easy for anyone juggling many roles to feel not very good at a whole lot of things. I think I told my husband once that my brain felt as if I had about ten browsers open at one time and the mouse was hopping back and forth from each one.
At heart, I am a “do-er.” I excel, thrive, and like to solve problems. I am a Martha. When Jesus came to the home of Mary and Martha in the gospels, Martha was busy preparing the meal and taking care of business. Martha did not take time to stop and listen to God being in her living room. Like Martha, I am often so busy I fail to see Jesus in my own home.
Being busy can make me feel large and in charge and somewhat successful at many thankless tasks. That is, until there comes problems I cannot fix, or tasks I cannot get done. My son recently had a problem I could not fix. I had to explain to my son that mommy was not frustrated with him and his problem; it was that mommy was frustrated she could not fix it. Mommy likes to fix things. Mommy is a solution-oriented gal. Mommy likes to be a duster-wielding, duct tape, solver-of-problems.
The problem is that we get stuck in these mind sets that we can fix everything. These mindsets cause us to think that we are the strength of our families, that we are the refuge and shield. Much like Martha, we get so busy with the fixing, the task action orientation of our lives, that we forget that our focus should be on God. When we get stuck in the mindset of a fixer, it is really hard to remember that we are called to trust in God. Through trust, joy and peace will follow.
The entire Easter story is about this trust in God. Really: we have to trust in God. We have to trust in God that the brutal, degrading, depressing crucifixion of Jesus is enough to make the world right. The death and resurrection of Christ is enough to fix everything: the world, the sins, the terror, the anxiety, the ills, the anger, the degradation…everything. It includes the big and the small. It includes all that I cannot fix as a wife and mother. We have to trust that God is stronger than duct tape.
The 40 days of Lent come easy to me because it is easy for me to look at my Lenten fast as a task list. I do like to set goals for myself to accomplish as a Christian during Lent. I do not know that will ever change, because I like the sense of accomplishment that Lent provides. I feel more in touch with myself as a Christian in the desert fasting doing something, than I do at Golgotha doing nothing. Easter comes much more difficult to me. When Easter arrives, it is time to be more like Mary. Being a Martha is great until you come a period of time that does not need fixing. Easter requires no action on my part, nothing needs fixing. God has taken care of everything. It is a pure, no-strings-attached gift with no broken parts. When I get a hold of my inner Martha and focus on being Mary for a while, I am greatly comforted and at peace when I have to do nothing. All my worries leave when I trust solely in God. God has taken care of everything during Easter. God provides our shield, our comfort, our strength and our redemption. I need not do anything. I can simply be in God’s refuge.
I am not a shepherd. I am the sheep. I am not the giver. I am the recipient. I am not the fixer. I am the fixed.
-Are you a Mary or a Martha?
-How has God fixed things for you?
-Where do you need to let go of those things you cannot fix?