I Have To/I Get To
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but few things are needed—indeed only one.” – Luke 10:41-42 (NRSVUE)
I wake up nearly every morning with a carnivorous To-Do List gnawing on my psyche. People, problems, tasks, and worries clamber over each other to be first in line for attention.
There are the 53 emails that have repopulated my inbox overnight, the 17 writing assignments that are overdue (including this devotional), 4 Zoom pastoral care sessions with people in crisis, the car to move before it gets a ticket, the house to clean (again), meals to prep (again), not to mention the patriarchy to keep dismantling and the revolution to do my part for. I have occasionally considered faking my own death just to get a fresh start.
The end of the day finally arrives. Most of the things got done (still working on the revolution). I fall into bed, exhausted. But then my 16-year-old, who had a hard day herself, wants some Mom Time and a tuck-in. I have to tuck in a 16-year-old?! When will it end?
Resentment, not at my kid but at my life and its too-muchness, boils over. I breathe. I hear the voice of Jesus, remonstrating with Martha. God echoes, “Molly, Molly, you say, ‘I have to do so many things.’ What if, instead, you say ‘I get to?’”
I try it out. “I get to write for a living. I get to have meaningful conversations about things that really matter all day long. I get to have a house for sanctuary and a car for ease. I get to cook beautiful food to nourish my body, and I get to be alive at a moment when faith-led political activism is actually changing society at a fundamental level! And at the end of the day, I get to snuggle and talk with a teenager who wants to share her inner life with me. Thank you, God, for this rich, full life.”
How about you? What “have-to-do’s” can you convert to “get-to-do’s”?
God, thank you for the reminder that only one thing is needed for a whole, holy life: gratitude. Amen.
Rev. Molly Baskette is the lead pastor of First Church Berkeley UCC and the author of a number of books about church renewal, parenting, spiritual growth and more. For her author newsletter and book information, visit mollybaskette.com.