Paper crinkled as she squirmed, goose bums rose on her arms as she alternately hugged herself and looked at her watch, frown lines creasing her forehead. Toes tapping on the step attached to the examining table.
“Good morning, Young Lady, what can we do for you today?”
“Humph, can’t remember the last time anybody called me that. Doc, can we get this done quickly, my schedule is full today. And tomorrow, and ….”
“Whoa, I can only go just so fast, not as young as we used to be.”
“Isn’t that the truth! Seems like I’ve waited all my life for this time, no more kids, or college bills, able to retire and spend time on myself…”
“But are you?”
“Am I what? Spending time on myself? Well, I guess so. I’ve finally been able to join all the committees at church, and the neighborhood book club. I’m certainly spending more time with the grandkids. Though it isn’t exactly the way I envisioned it.” She scrunched up her face again, almost as if suddenly catching a whiff of something that smelled bad.
“Okay, now hold still so I can listen to your heart… Uh, Martha, that means you have to stop talking, too!”
He folded up the stethoscope and reached for the tongue depressor. “Say ahhhh!” He stuck it in, gagging her as she spluttered.
“They don’t even ask anymore, they just show up, kids in tow, and drop them off. Like they think I’m just sitting around with nothing to do. Or I get angry calls on my cell - that thing’s more of a curse than a blessing - wanting to know where I am, they need me!”
“Martha, how many committees are you on now?” Doc patiently stood there, waiting for her to stop so he could interject his questions.
“Too many, I can’t even remember them all…”
“Then why are you doing it?”
“What? Well, they need me, they all say so, they’ve waited for me to retire so I could join…”
“All of them?”
Martha stopped, not sure how to answer the question, consternation written all over her face.
“Martha, have you forgotten how to say ‘NO!’ to these people? You spent decades telling your children no: No, you can’t eat that. No, you can’t go there. No, you can’t do that. Have you removed the word from your vocabulary? Why are you letting them do this to you?
Here are my prescriptions to you: First, say no. Tell them you just can’t do it all. Second, go to the beach, take off your shoes, bury your toes in the sand, and spend some time with God. How long has it been since you’ve talked to Him?”
“I’m not sure. I always made time for Him as I was juggling raising my kids and work. I never would have survived without Him.”
“So, why is now any different? Martha, you need to set priorities. Time with you and God needs to come first, then everything else will fall into place. You need to resign from most of those committees, as well.”
She looked dumbfounded. Her jaw actually dropped as the thoughts whirled through her mind, flashing across her eyes like a movie screen.
“How can I decide which ones to quit?”
“How have you decided any major question? You spend time with God and let Him help.”
“Tell them you want to spend quality time with the grandchildren, that you’re no longer available on a drop-in basis to baby-sit. They need to plan ahead. Just as you do.”
‘I… I’m not sure I can do that, they need me.”
“What will they do after you work your way into the grave? They’ll be forced to find a way then. They can find a way now. Martha, what needs to be the most important thing in your life right now? Pleasing everybody else? Dying young? Do you want to see those grandkids grow up? Or leave them with the memories of a harried woman who rushed through their lives? It’s your choice. Sit at Jesus feet now, and introduce Him to them, or continue as you are.”
Astonishment dawned like a beacon across her face. Toes stopped tapping. Her shoulders relaxed. A smile slowly appeared, her breathing visibly changing as her entire body relaxed.
“Yes, I think a day at the beach is just what I need. A day with my best friend, I’ve missed Him.”
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