Every stove burner is full. Every pot and pan is in use. The recipe cards are spread out all over the counters with splatters of food on them. Amazing smells are wafting out from the oven. In the midst of the cluttered kitchen immerges the cook. The very frazzled cook. Sweat covers her brow, her cheeks are flushed, tendrils of hair are falling out of her ponytail, flour covers her apron and a scowl covers her face. She is distracted, detached and busy inside of her own mind. “Don’t forget to stir the pot, don’t forget to check the cookies, I guess I need to also set the table…we all know no one is going to volunteer to do it for me. Can’t wait to slave away all day at the stove and then do the dishes by myself later while everyone else gets to talk and play games. I am my kitchen’s victim and my sacrifices better not go unnoticed…” Her mind races and her frown deepens. Anyone passing by knows not to bother her. No one offers to help because they know they can’t do anything the way she wants it done. They are fully aware that even one word that could be taken the wrong way will erupt Mount Vesuvius. The frantic cook is oblivious to this wall she has put up. All she wants to do is create the picture-perfect, Pinterest-worthy holiday dinner for her loved ones. This is how she knows how to love – in service. But what she is blissfully unaware of is the stressful environment she has created within her home. She will spend next to no time with her loved ones, she will push everyone away with her scowl and the holiday will end. The memories of her will be that of strife. Oh to think of what could have been – the laughs that could’ve been shared, the games that could’ve been played, the Biblical topics that could’ve been discussed and the love that could have enveloped her home. This is what I picture when I read Proverbs 17:1: “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” “An house full of sacrifices” can be translated “a house full of feasting”.
What an incredible thought. I’m picturing some dry bread crumbs on a plate and laughter at the table versus a full-course meal fit for a magazine cover and people feeling awkward, walking on eggshells. Which one would you rather have? Which memories will you cherish forever? Will you hold on to the memory of the food you ate or the fellowship you had? Sometimes we can’t get the Facebook images of “everyone else’s” beautiful holiday meals out of our minds. We just want it all to be “perfect”. If this idealistic, unrealistic expectation you’ve placed on yourself has the chance to make you like the cook described above, I’m going to suggest something to you…and to myself. Order pizza. That’s right. Pizza. Leave the oven off, order some pizza and sit down with those who really matter – the people around you. If you knew ordering some pizza could help your home have peace, then what is stopping you?
Doesn’t this remind you of someone in the Bible? A woman very much like the one described above who “missed that one thing” – time at the feet of her Savior who was literally in her living room! She was concerned about a lot of good things but not “that one thing” that was most important. Most of us can see ourselves in Martha; so many good intentions and yet such a wasted opportunity to focus on Who and what really mattered. Poor Martha will forever be known as the frazzled housekeeper who missed a chance to sit at the feet of Jesus and glean wisdom. Let’s not walk in her shoes. Let’s not be forever known as the cook that had the perfectly decked out table, the perfectly cleaned and decorated home, but the deeply-ingrained scowl on her face. If you have been this person, praise the Lord, you still have breath in your lungs! Make it right. Change the bad habits as this season of gathering approaches us. Lay down your pride and if you have to, lay down the spatula. Order some pizza and SIT DOWN with your loved ones. Exemplify the love of your Savior and make GOOD memories that will last a lifetime.
“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith,
than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” ~ Proverbs 17:1
“ But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42
“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Proverbs 21:9