I am a rational woman. I know my limits. I believe in that being relational is more important than being productive. I am not a perfectionist. I do not need to impress people. I know how to laugh at myself.
But, I have an alter-ego. Her name is Supermom. And unlike most super heroes, when I put on my mask and cape I do not fly around the city saving lives. Instead, I fly around my house, usually my kitchen, wreaking havoc and snapping at people.
Today we had plans to meet friends for lunch and beach time after church today, and yesterday I offered to bring dessert. I had planned to make my super-easy mini cherry cheesecake recipe with the Nilla Wafer crust on Saturday night, but I fell asleep on the couch instead.
My mild-mannered sensible personality, upon waking up at 10:30 p.m. and wiping drool from the leather sofa, would then have decided to pick up cookies the next day after church. But when I woke up this morning, Supermom arrived on the scene. Upon realizing that I had not bought Nilla Wafers, I decided to make graham cracker crust. Upon realizing that I had lost the recipe, I called my mom, who told me graham cracker crust would not work. So, I sent my husband to the store to buy Nilla Wafers.
At this point in the saga, it's 7:30 a.m. and Hubby and I have one hour to shower, dress, eat breakfast, pack for the beach and make cheesecakes. Again, Sensible Mommy would abort.
But once Supermom is in mid-flight, she does not abort. Cape flying, Toddler at myfeet whining for licks from the spatula, I got the cheesecakes made, realized I'd bought blueberry and apple instead of cherry topping, glopped it on anyway, threw it in the cooler, and got in the car in a bad mood.
On the ride to church, I was not in the mood for worshiping. I was not in the mood for lunch with friends. All I wanted to do was go home, clean up my messy kitchen, and go back to bed.
This happens to me on Sunday mornings more often than I would care to admit. I depart for church having snapped at every member of my family for no good reason. But my Supermom alter-ego is usually to blame. Usually I tried to do too much, look too nice, cook too fancy a breakfast, or generally push the limits too hard. Also more often than I am happy to say, I walk into church wearing my Supermom cape and a sour expression. And always, always, my sensible, relational self walks out, and usually, apologizes to her husband.
This morning the sermon was about learning to number our days so we can gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Basically, Moses is beseeching God: give us a sense of how short life is so that we will give our time to things that are important.
Sitting there, I thought of Jesus' friends Martha and Mary. Every Christian woman has heard this story. Martha is busy in the kitchen preparing dinner, and Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to him. Martha stomps out and demands that Jesus tell Mary to get up and help her make dinner. I love Jesus' response: "Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Your sister has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her."
Martha had a Superwoman cape, too. And two thousand years ago, her cape did the same thing that mine does for me: it makes her cranky, makes her worried, and makes her snap at the people that she loves. She loves Jesus as much as Mary does I'm sure; it takes great trust and intimacy to speak to someone the way she spoke to him. And if that sounds wrong to you, think about who in your life gets your sharpest words. It's always your family and the people that make you feel safest. But she lost her way in the details of all she thought needed to be done.
I've heard the Martha-Mary story tons of times. I've taught lessons on it. I've encouraged teams of volunteers working under my direction to be Marys rather than Marthas; to put their relationships with God and people ahead of all the little unnecessary things women tend to add to life in the name of caring for people. But the simplicity of this story still brings me to my knees. The accomplishments will all pass away: the meals I make, the stellar confections I concoct, the projects I sew. The only eternal things I have are my relationships, with my husband, my kids, my friends, my Lord.
So teach me Lord, to number my days, so that I may spend them well. And stop me next time I get out my cape.