And it's funny because there's quite a few parallels there. Marie and Martha, that is. Martha is known best, perhaps, for her unwavering work ethic. (And, she's kind of even gotten a bad rap for it.)
I'm (still) reading Marie Curie's biography. This is a woman who won two Nobel prizes. In two different fields. And sacrificed her health and life for her science. To say that she was no slouch is a severe understatement. The book describes in detail the lack of technology at the time--which required her concentration, precision, timing, skill, and steadiness of hand. The woman worked hard. Science takes a lot of effort usually, but without the tools we have now, the stakes were much higher.
Being a scientist-Christian is a challenge for a lot of reasons (just look at my summer posts...), but one reason that might be overlooked is simply the pace: Read! Write! Get grants! Teach! Prepare! Analyze! The deadlines scream as they rush past you. The degree of stress and pressure that comes as part of the academic lifestyle can be overwhelming. The to-do lists are never done.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to do a Bible study on Sabbath rest. It was mind-blowing, and incredibly challenging and thought-provoking. I do not easily rest. Born an A-type personality, even my fun is goal-driven and ambitious. At times, my free time has consisted of: practicing piano (which I'm not good at and is fun, but quite effortful), learning languages, watching TV with the goal of catching up on a series, reading books because I want to finish them.... I'm getting better at this, in part because of my new awareness of it. And it's something I've continued to pursue exploring- Sabbath, rest, busy. But I do not naturally rest. And Science does not naturally Sabbath, either.
But intelligence, hard work, and busyness are not fruits of the spirit. [Really, can we talk about those fruit for a minute? We've all got one (or five) that just does not come easy to us. Love- love is easy for me. I can conjure up love as easily as peeling a banana. Peace? More like hacking into a coconut. Which, the description alone probably expresses how easy peace is for me.] And, in this line of work? In science? Peace, patience... gentleness, self-control. Patience with that difficult advisor, gentleness with students, peace in the face of deadlines and failed experiments... And that self-control, that includes being able to stop working...
These fruits are evidence of our relationship with God. They're part of what sets us apart and makes us look different. But busy rushes in and makes it hard. Busy creates chaos, roughness, haste, obsession, and idols.
A devotion I read today reminded me that busy is based on fear.
We're afraid because we think it's our job to do all of this and that it's all on our shoulders and we will be failures and let everyone down if we stop.
We're afraid because what people will think.
We're afraid because we have not worked hard enough, or long enough yet to deserve a break. We have not earned it.
We're afraid because our identities are wrapped up in our work. (Priscilla Shirer does a lovely job of unpacking this in Biblical context as a slave mentality, which God desires to free us from.)
We are afraid. But the omnipotent Creator-God loves us. And perfect love casts out fear. We forget that our identity is in Him. That He is the One whose shoulders carry our troubles and worries. That He is strong enough and good enough to provide. That what other people think doesn't matter. That we don't have to earn it. That He calls us to rest, and to trust Him, and that sometimes Sabbath is an act of faith.
I have been learning how to let go of my fears, one by one. Today, I'll learn this one again. Martha, Marie, and me.