I've been thinking about anxiety...

CONFLICTING PRIORITIES

When priorities converge and conflict results, "splitting" occurs. I am speaking here of intense emotional pain - a deep piercing - caused by being divided within myself over what my priorities should be in a particular situation.

As I sort out what to do in my "splitting" times, I often think of the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42. Jesus came to Martha's home for dinner. (Can you imagine serving as a hostess to the Son of God?) As was His custom, wherever He went, Jesus began to teach and entertain questions from the group who gathered to share the occasion with Him.

Mary, Martha's sister, chose to sit at Jesus' feet listening to His words instead of assuming the normal role of a female in that culture which was to help with the meal preparations. Because Mary was not helping, Martha was extra busy and overburdened. Finally, when her frustrations reached the boiling point, she complained to Jesus, asking Him to "Tell her then to help me."

Jesus responded to Martha with wonderful tenderness because He recognized her emotional state. He used her name (Can you imagine the Son of God saying your name?) and gently instructed her in how to lower her anxiety by shifting her priorities. This is where I relate to Martha and her plight.

I grieve over how often distractions in my life keep me from doing the most needful thing. In this story, Jesus identifies the keenest form of distraction - the kind that causes someone to be anxious and troubled about many things.

What is anxiety? It is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.

Jesus continues on with His lesson in restructuring priorities, by saying, only "one thing is necessary" or absolutely needed. Only one thing has eternal value, only one thing brings peace - even though, at times, it may even be at odds with the expectations of polite society.

What is that one necessary thing? Nothing is more important than communing with Jesus and letting Him speak to me. And so, when my distraction level hits high alert - when I'm tempted to move FASTER and work HARDER, that is my cue to SIT DOWN at Jesus' feet and simply listen. Because in quietly listening to His instruction and wisdom - I am pleasing Him - first.