Seeking Spiritual Wellness
You may have heard the story of Martha and Mary in the Bible (Luke 10:38-42) in which Martha invites Jesus to be a guest in her home and expects her sister Mary to help with all the preparations. To Martha's disappointment, Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to him instead of helping out. I find it hard to understand sometimes that Jesus did not send Mary to help Martha when Martha complained, but he said that Mary had chosen what is better and it would not be taken away from her.
Jesus' response is so different from the way many of us who are a part of the Christian faith behave. I shudder to think of what would happen if we all did what Mary did. Who would serve dinner? Who would make sure the guests have what they need? Would Jesus have really been pleased if everyone present had "chosen what is better" and sat at his feet without any snacks?
If you haven't guessed, I tend to behave like Martha in this story. But lately, I've been behaving more like Mary and at times I have felt very concerned about what all the Marthas must think of me! But I have had to step back to allow myself to grieve a loss and heal from a friendship wound, among other struggles and transitions that could easily overwhelm me.
As Christians, we love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19). I seek to receive love from God and be consistently aware of that love in order to be empowered to love others well. I believe that Jesus loves perfectly so I also study his example to learn to love others in sustainable ways rather than serving until I have nothing left which has been my habit, and perhaps Martha's too.
One example from Jesus' life that I think played a major role in sustaining his active love is that, though Jesus served many people, he also withdrew from people for prayer and solitude (Luke 5:16). This is one of my wellness goals: that I would regularly and completely withdraw for prayer and solitude without shame because of what Martha would say, or anyone else. I will also follow Jesus' example of returning from such retreats to engage people and giving myself in love for them.
Another area in which I want to grow in spiritual wellness is to ask for help. Though I hurt like everyone else, people rarely notice unless I tell them. In part, this habit comes from years of intentionally hiding physical and emotional pain from others. But even though I'm ready to share and I have shared many times, I'm still learning to ask for help and I'm learning how to allow my need for support to be seen by others. I even have to learn what types of help I need when others are willing to offer it because I'm not in the habit of thinking about what serves me well.
Jesus asked a couple of his dearest friends to keep watch and pray as he prayed on the night of his crucifixion (Matthew 26:36-46). His friends didn't do a great job with that, but he asked. I know that I am not greater than Jesus and that I need help from the people God has put in my life, so I am working on asking for help too. As I observe myself to learn ways that others can support me, I have started by asking for prayer.
Wellness frequently looks like balance of many things, even seemingly opposing things. As I pursue spiritual wellness today, I am engaging and withdrawing, serving and asking for help, and loving out of the love that God shows to me.
Are you pursuing spiritual wellness today? How does it look for you?