"Jesus and his disciples … came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried [troubled] and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better [relationships], and it will not be taken away from her.'"1
I read about a very successful youth leader, or so he and many others believed, who built a tremendous youth ministry—the largest in the country. But he was always busy, busy, busy.
In fact he was so busy with his work "for God" that he neglected the most important things in his life. Late one November his wife caught him as he was racing out the door to go to preach to somebody else's kids. She asked, "Do you know, or do you even care that from the middle of September until today, you have not been home one night?"
She had a breakdown soon after. He contemplated suicide. He later confessed, "I was a man who existed in a shell."
Like many of us, Jim's shell of busyness was his external protection—not from the outside world—but from his inner world of unresolved anxiety. Jim's problem was that he was a busy-aholic. That may have been Martha's problem too. Perhaps?
As long as we keep on the run to avoid facing our inner anxieties, our busyness can get us addicted to our own adrenaline, which becomes nothing less than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the feelings of an empty or troubled life. In so doing we end up hiding from our own reality—a self-destructive path to follow.
To overcome, the first step is to admit the truth of what we are doing; that is, admit our addiction no matter how refined it appears to be. The second step is to get into a recovery/support group to help stop the addictive/avoidance behavior so we can feel the pain we are seeking to avoid. And third, where necessary we need to seek wise or professional counseling as well as God's help to resolve and overcome the cause or causes behind our avoidance behavior.
Suggested prayer (if needed): "Dear God, I confess that I'm a Martha to the core. Please help me to let go of the addictive over-control of my life, find the help I need to overcome, and help me to develop the relational 'Mary' in me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Luke 10:38-42 (NIV).