“In the last 60 days three college female athletes have died by suicide. The families of two athletes came out and said their daughters were too hard on themselves and felt pressure to always be perfect. Just yesterday the JMU softball player was named conference player of the week. Her teammates are devastated. It’s a wake up call that we need to do better. Sports should be an escape. Sports should be fun. We have moments of heartache. Moments of stress, but we have to keep perspective.”
I came across this post, originally from a high school coach I think, and it was shocking to me. We have been increasingly facing a mental health crisis. Suicides and suicide attempts are rising, especially among adolescents—it’s the second leading cause of death for people under the ages of 34 according to the NIMH. Obviously, this is a giant, complex issue that won’t be tackled in a Jumpstart post, however, the coach’s plea to “keep perspective” lands exactly in today’s passage.
Many of us are familiar with the encounter with Martha and Mary. I’ve heard many women say, “Don’t be a Martha,” as a call to simply abide with Jesus. What stands out to me in this encounter is Jesus’ rebuke of Martha, and most importantly, what he didn’t say.
Martha asks Jesus why he doesn’t rebuke Mary and that she’s doing it all herself. We all know this feeling. Like many of you, I grew up with a priority of “fairness.” Everything had to be “fair,” and from french fries to Christmas presents, it there was a perceived unfairness somebody lost their minds.
Jesus’ response to Martha is a little surprising. First, he doesn’t comment on the fairness or unfairness of her situation. But secondly, he doesn’t rebuke her serving or the work she was doing. What Jesus rebuked was her heart, saying she was “anxious and troubled.”
Serving isn’t wrong. Trying to keep a clean house or host guests to the best of your ability isn’t wrong. What’s wrong is when that serving is motivated by anxiety and a troubled heart. The issue wasn’t what Martha was doing, it was why she was doing it.
Going back to the opening story, one of the things I love about sports is that team sports have so much to teach you about life. Chief among those lessons is teamwork and how to win and lose gracefully. Eventually, kids should learn that I am not my wins and losses. I am not the plays I make. It’s what I’ve done, but not who I am—I can learn from it, but it doesn’t define me.
Outside of sports, people carry this stress of having to perform in many ways. The biggest issue is that we hand over control of our hearts to our work, clean house, well maintained yard, kids, spouses, coworkers, bosses, etc. We create idols out of these things that receive our utmost attention and affection. All these good gifts from God, when made ultimate, are sin.
A great deal of mental health issues and anxieties (that aren’t physiological) flow from idols being shaken in our lives. When our idols crumble, when we see the futility of our own sin, it hurts us deeply. Many of us have walked this ground—me included.
The answer to all of this is simple, but not easy. Jesus said, “One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen a good portion.” Abiding with Jesus resets our priorities. He has accomplished everything necessary for us to be in his presence and to be completely pleasing to him. We have been designed for this relationship. Living apart from this relationship, or seeking validation from another source, will always lead to harm. At the end of the day, we don’t need to win at everything but we need to accomplish the one necessary thing—abide.
By: Tyler Short
"Serving isn’t wrong. Trying to keep a clean house or host guests to the best of your ability isn’t wrong. What’s wrong is when that serving is motivated by anxiety and a troubled heart. The issue wasn’t what Martha was doing, it was why she was doing it" This really spoke to my heart because this has been a lift-long struggle of mine. I'm in a much better place than I was years ago, but it's still a challenge for me. Thanks for this reminder today, Tyler.
Thank you for sharing Lindsay. You're not alone there.
Thank you, Tyler! Such a good reminder!!!!