Last weekend my son had a friend over for a play date. It was the first time this particular family had come to our house, and I like to make a reasonably decent impression when people come to the door.
“Decent impressions” get complicated by our dog, Kate. She looks like a German Shepherd except she’s brown where they’re normally black, and she’s the friendliest dog ever. Too friendly. As much as I like to think she’s a fierce guard dog, in her mind, if someone rings the door bell they’re a friend and should be licked, jumped on, writhed around, and nearly knocked over so the visitor knows exactly how happy she is to see them.
Normally I lock her in the bedroom when people are coming over, but my son got to the door before I could, and suddenly Kate’s greeting our visitors like a bouncy ball on crack. Then she bolts for the street because there might be more people who need sixty pounds of German Shepherd up in their business. After I get her back in the house, apologize to the parents, and settle the boys for a couple of hours of Minecraft, I corner my husband in the kitchen and let him have it (because it’s somehow his fault Kate jumps on people. Don’t question my logic, or I’ll introduce you to my dog).
“I don’t want people to think we’re not good dog owners!” comes out of my mouth before I hear myself. He’s unloading the dishwasher while looking at me like he’s trying to decide if the correct response is offering chocolate chips straight out of the bag or giving me the fight I’m spoiling for.
Martha and I have something too much in common: hospitality customs, ancient or modern, mean offering my best to visitors. My ego make it easy to get really busy with “the best” of anything, that thick smear of perfection I long for because it’s a fantastic defense, and an even more fantastic way to stay out of God’s story. Everyone else was happy to see our visitors — my son, my husband, most certainly Kate — but not me because I thought I looked bad. I was Martha, through and through, right down to blaming someone else for my egotistical busyness. I missed a chance to check in with our friends, and perhaps get a glimpse of how God’s story is unfolding in their lives. Who knows? Maybe Jesus was sitting in the living room, playing Minecraft with my son, and I missed it.
What part of your ego keeps you busy in the kitchen? What helps you find the balance between busy and contemplative?