Choose the better part, and it will not be taken from (you)” (Lk 10:42)
Martha and Mary…most of us know this Bible story well. Martha was angry, thinking she had been wronged by her sister, Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha was slaving in the kitchen. But Jesus did not take Martha’s side, basically saying that Mary was in the right place, and Martha should quit worrying about so many things (and join Mary at His feet!). Martha was wrapped in tension, while Christ tried to teach her a “better’ way.
That’s what this book is all about. Bringing to light God’s grace, in the midst of our daily stress and turmoil.
In her book, Claire McGarry dives deeply into that scripture, and invites us to enter in and understand, to draw insight and knowledge of our own faith life, and the results of our misled (albeit often well-intentioned) choices.
When we forge ahead without discernment and confirmation, we are failing to properly aim our “rudders.” God will lovingly allow tension to build in our lives. Because we have said yes to things we should not be taking on, or simply set our standards too high and chosen not to ask for help, we begin to feel overwhelmed, start floundering, and find ourselves wrapped up in tension. This is just one way that God gets our attention!
Within this tension, the author has unearthed the ever-loving, always merciful, nudge of God. In our stress, He is offering us an opportunity for spiritual growth and an outpouring of His grace. “There’s no better place to realign ourselves than at the feet of Jesus.”
The author’s insight is that we can view our stress as a sort of lighthouse, warning us that we have gone off-course, spiritually speaking. Through specific steps of prayer and discernment laid out by McGarry, we can turn to the Light of the Holy Trinity and get back to calm and safe waters, choosing the better part, using our time and talents in the way that God intends for each of us.
Following the steps set up in Claire’s book (identified by the acronym G-I-F-T), you can pray your way through the tension, making better decisions, while focusing on “being, rather that doing.”
You’ll learn about setting healthy boundaries, adjusting your expectations, avoiding comparison and competition, learning to ask for help, avoiding the practice of making yourself a “martyr,” empowering others to use their gifts, and even accepting the unresolvable.
Reading this book at my age, as an “empty-nester” Mimi, a term which is a complete fabrication, in my opinion! (Which you should know if you read my blog regularly!), I recalled overhearing my youngest daughter saying this many years ago, to a friend, “My mom is in charge of EVERYTHING!” and she was right. I was the leader of two American Heritage Girl units, and I often did everything myself, rarely asking my co-leaders for help (which I realized too late was not a kind way to behave!). For three years a friend and I were in charge of a huge event, “AHG Spring Camporee,” gathering a team, doing ALL the planning and coordinating of all the stations and activities. Then I volunteered to take over the track and field day planning at our school, and changed it into a themed, cross-curricular event. I started Children’s Liturgy of the Word at our Church. When we started homeschooling, I began a DTS youth group, and planned service opportunities for the members and other homeschoolers, including complicated mission trips for high school students, topping it off with a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, staying with the Salesian priests there. Of course, I also HAD to plan at least one bus trip for our parish to the March for Life! Eventually I was a co-president for our homeschool support group, and from there went on to be a co-leader of a parent-led homeschool co-op we attended. The list goes on and on, but with this small sample, you can understand the tension I brought into my life as a young mother. I had a lot of fun along the way, but I definitely wore myself out far too often.
That’s why I think EVERYONE (but especially mothers!), will love this book, appreciating the insights and the beautiful prayers, while bringing your life pursuits and projects in line with your particular gifts, used within God’s will (and always remembering that tension and stress are God’s way of calling you back to His side!).
The upcoming season of Advent is a PERFECT time to work through this book, and/or wrap up a copy for a friend or family member’s Christmas gift. Order a copy today through Amazon, you’ll be so blessed by it!