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Posts Tagged ‘Mary’

I’ve been studying a packet my grandmother gave me a few years ago by Chuck Swindoll about the classic bible verse Proverbs 3:5-6.  (Trust in the Lord your God and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.)

The first thing that jumped out at me was his exposition of the story of Mary and Martha.  In the text, Jesus visits Mary and Martha. Mary sits at his feet and soaks up everything he has to say, but Martha runs around in the kitchen trying to cook for all the disciples who randomly showed up and gets angry at Mary for not helping.  She complains to Jesus and he tells her that Mary is doing what she needed to do – what was important for her to do.  Martha is not stressed out because Mary is shirking her duties – Martha is stressed out because she has decided that the most important thing is to live up to her own expectations of being a hostess.  She assumed that responsibility herself when it was not actually the priority at that moment.  Chuck Swindoll brings up this story because he is trying to point out that you should not blame other people for your stress – you may be accepting worry for things that are unnecessary.

I manage complex research projects and I feel angry at people who have easy projects.  I feel angry at the woman in my office who has one project and rolls into work at 10:30 AM and leaves at 4:30 PM because she’s (presumably) a nitwit and can’t be given complicated projects, while I have three projects and I work from 8:30 AM until 6:30 or 8:30 at night, and on weekends.  I think “angry” is an understatement – I hate her with the fire of a thousand suns.  I hate my clients who make me do stupid things to data.  They are arbitrary and they don’t understand research methodology and it toasts me that I spend so much time catering to their misguided whims.

When I read that exposition on the story of Mary and Martha, it occurred to me that I am not stressed out because my clients are crazy or my coworker is lazy.  I am stressed out because I internalize the crazy demands my clients make and the obvious injustice of my coworker’s schedule.  I still think my clients are crazy sadists, but it was enlightening to realize that their madness does not automatically deserve my stress.  I don’t not have to take that inside of me – I can choose not to internalize their agenda.

Today I learned that they want me to make extensive changes to a research project that is in the field.  I am so proud that my very first thought was, You do not deserve my cortisol.  Each time my body makes cortisol it shortens my life expectancy and I will be damned if I do that over your stupid changes.  My life is not about making these changes happen tonight (or about being someone’s idea of a perfect hostess).  You cannot force me to feel that unrelenting responsibility that threatens my sanity – I refuse to take it up as my burden.  Fuck you.

I think that’s what Jesus meant, and that’s why religion is helping me.  (Clearly it’s not helping me avoid words like “hate” and “nitwit” and “fuck,” but we can deal with the plank in my eye on another post.)

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Okay, Catholics.  I know you’re out there.  I want to know why you think the Virgin Mary died a virgin.  After all, she was…married!

*

I studied theology at a Catholic seminary that trained monks and nuns for one semester.  I was the only non-priest, non-monk, non-nun in this class, which in theory was supposed to be about the history of the modern in church.  In practice, the coursework reached the Reformation during the first week and never advanced beyond it for the entire semester.  Periodically, my professor would beseechingly ask me questions about why I was a protestant heretic.

My favorite such encounter was when he stopped mid-sentence during one lecture and said to me, “FierceLinguist, why don’t you love the Virgin Mary?  Your church is motherless!” *cue much gasping from the nuns and monks in the audience*  I offered a halting explanation in Spanish at to why Protestants think the Virgin Mary is a Very Nice Lady and yet not someone who can help you with prayers.

I’m actually a big fan of the Virgin Mary, but I’m really not sure why it’s so abhorrent for people to think that she eventually had sex with her husband.  My husband has requested that I not  ask our priest about this at mass this weekend.  I’m pretty sure he’d just start talking about Tradition with a capital “t” anyway.  Or say it’s a “mystery” of the church, which means, “Bless your heart, it’s rude to ask about the sex lives of saints.  This is why you’re one of the separated brethren.”

*http://blasphemes.blogspot.com/2009_11_01_archive.html

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