It’s Friday evening. We just finished a simple, hearty dinner, and it’s time for our toddler son to go to sleep.
Friday night is the movie/date night for my husband and me. Usually, after we put down our son in his bed, we watch a movie or an episode of our favorite show with some snacks and drinks. Our two months old daughter would hang out with us in her infant chair. I look forward to it every Friday.
Except it’s that Friday night when my son refuses to go to sleep.
Having sung “ Jesus loves me ” both in English and Chinese, twice, on my son’s request, I said a prayer for him. When I finished praying, my son said to me, “Can you sing ‘twinkle twinkle ’for me?”
“ I’ve sung ‘ Jesus loves me.’ It’s time to close your eyes and sleep now.”
“ But I don’t want to close my eyes. Can you pray a bit more?”
I took a deep breath, and prayed again, “Jesus, please help Caleb to fall asleep quickly and give him a goodnight sleep. Amen! ”.
“ Mama, can you sing Do Re Mi for me?”
I looked at my watch. It’s already past 21:00. We usually start our movie before 20:30 so that we could finish it in time for bed. I don’t know if we could still watch a movie since it’s getting late. I felt the frustration arise in me— the tension of having to let go of some simple pleasure I’d been looking forward to after a long week. I wish my son were sleeping already.
Then, I remembered the dose of remedy I’d received this morning during my quiet time. I was reading the story of Martha and Mary in the Bible. As I meditated on the scripture, I realized that while Martha was distracted by doing many things on her agenda, Jesus was commending Mary for staying where He was. On Martha’s agenda were the good things that kept her busy—- making sure the guests well served. However, instead of enjoying doing them and having fun, she was weary and frustrated.
On my agenda, there is “movie night with husband ” to be ticked off. No doubt, it’s a good thing in the name of self-care and marriage-strengthening. But on this particular night, with an uneasy 2-year-old boy demanding for his mama’s company, to insist on keeping my agenda felt like Martha exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests.
Why can’t I move to where Mary sits—- at the feet of Jesus—- where God wants me to be?
In that moment, sitting by the crib of my son, I realized there was a better way to enjoy life and find peace than to watch a movie. It is to adjust my values and priorities to align with His, do the thing He put in front of me, and stay where He is. It looks like Mary sitting by His feet and listening to His teaching. It can also look like being with my son when he needs his mama, making sure his love tank was full until he fell asleep.
In the Kingdom of God, to live is to die, and to let go is to gain. Giving up my desires for the sake of love is where life takes place inside and around—- the only way to a fulfilled life, and the best way to self-care.
My son fell asleep soon after I was hit by this revelation as if God was purposefully taking the time to teach me a valuable lesson. My heart was full. I tiptoed to the living room, sit beside my husband who’s thumbing through a magazine, opened a book. We chit-chatted as we resurfaced every ten minutes or so from the sea of written words, sharing about our thoughts or what we learned — a peaceful and delightful night without a movie.
Dear reader, what does “sitting at the feet of Jesus” look like for you today? As you finish reading this post, can you take a pause, listen for the little voice inside you, and discern where Jesus wants you to be and what to do the next moment? Stay with Him, readjust your values and place first things first, even it means to ditch all the plans on the agenda today—-that is where real life begins.