Being vs. Doing

Molly TotoroThis past weekend Americans celebrated Labor Day. Traditionally this holiday signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Officially, however, the first Monday in September is reserved to honor the achievements of American workers.

Labor Day focuses on productivity, efficiency, and economic gain. It is about doing our job – whatever it may be – to the best of our ability. It focuses on determination, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. After all, striving for success is the American way.

For many women, however, our jobs do not end after an eight-hour shift. We push ourselves to go above-and-beyond at the office, and then return home to provide that same level of care for our family.

We ensure our home is well-organized with enough food to eat and clean clothes to wear. We are available to shuttle children to after-school activities, assist them with homework, and listen to their problems and concerns.

We strive to maintain a joyful attitude because we know “If Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and we desire a cheerful family.

Then of course there is the ministry aspect of our lives. We are grateful for the gifts and talents the Lord has given us, and we desire to give back. We volunteer our time in several areas because there is so much need and not enough workers. Many of us log as many hours at church as we work in the office.

When we finally have a moment for ourselves, we are exhausted and simply collapse into bed. We reason that tomorrow we will take time to rejuvenate… but tomorrow is a repeat of yesterday… and last week… and last year.

I was interested in reviewing synonyms for labor. Many of them encompass, as I expected, a positive connotation: employment, job, effort. But there were also a few surprises, which held a darker, more negative meaning such as: chore, drudgery, stress.

It is when our hard work and effort give way to drudgery and resentment that we need to stop and refocus. 

I think this is what Jesus was trying to convey to Martha.

I used to dislike this particular Bible story. I thought Jesus was comparing Martha to Mary and voicing a preference for the latter. Since I embody the characteristics of workaholic Martha, I felt as though Christ was rejecting me.

I would often rationalize, but if we all just sat around like Mary, who would do the work?

But Christ recently showed me He does not compare, nor does He play favorites. It is only because of His deep love and compassion for all of us that He wants us to take a break, to sit for a while, to re-energize at His feet.

Christ knew my energizer-bunny lifestyle was taking its toll. The constant activities created undo stress, which affected my physical health.

And I was the one comparing my work to others, creating resentment toward the Marys in my life. This, in turn, deteriorated my spiritual well-being.

So in celebration of this Labor Day I urge you to follow Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, but also take the time to sit at His feet, bask in His love, and rejoice in simply being His child.

©2015 Molly Totoro

Molly Totoro is a writer and a recently retired English teacher who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share” and is currently establishing a ministry, Milestone Memoirs, where she helps others discover and write their stories to impact future generations.  Molly frequently writes about the need to leave a legacy on her Stepping Stones blog.