by Heather Garner
It was love at first sight when I met the beach. My soul had officially met its mate. The blue sky with those magnificent puffy white clouds, the warm sun was beaming, sand between my toes, a refreshing breeze blew my hair as I lounged in my beach chair along the shoreline. The small waves hit me with a perfect ebb and flow. Breathing in the fresh air. Breathing out the worries of this life. Praying and thanking God. Freeing my soul. All was right with the universe. I was feeling all the beach vibes ever.
This is a true story. The beach seriously is my happy place. However, I remember being in the same beautiful scenario yet feeling miserable. I complained and grumbled and whined under my breath. I snapped at my family. I missed out on spending quality time with my kids. My attitude was negative, I was overwhelmed, exhausted and felt unappreciated. Let’s rewind a few hours before we arrived at the beach.
Being a task-driven person, I scheduled the trip, mapped out the destination, gathered beach towels, went on treasure hunts for matching bathing suits, packed snorkels, sand buckets, sunscreen, umbrella, food, drinks, change of clothes. All the beach gear you could carry except that one special purple dolphin shaped sand mold that your daughter cried over when we got there. The list was (mostly) checked.
By the time we got to our gorgeous spot, I was already exhausted. I had taken it upon myself to do every single thing. My family could have pitched in but why would they when they know “Mom will do it” This has been a struggle of mine for as long as I can remember.
I recently discovered that there is a name for it: over-functioning.
According to Geri Scazzero’s book, “Emotionally Healthy Woman,” over-functioning is the act of doing for someone what they can and should do for themselves.
Here are some signs that you may be an over-fuctioner….
- You cover for others shortcomings
- You like to be needed
- You move in quickly to advise or fix things in case they fall apart
- You offer advice even when people didn’t request it
- You have difficulty allowing others to struggle with their own problems
- You often do what is asked of you, even if you are already overloaded
In Luke 10:38-41 “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman named Martha welcomed Him and made Him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word He said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend a hand.’”
Now, hold up a minute, you know if there was a panel of women looking in on this scenario, they would be saying things like, “Oh no she did not!” or, “Girl, did she just shush Jesus and yell at Him to tell her sister to help?”
What? But ladies, let’s be honest, we can all be “Martha-ish” more than we would like to admit.
Of course, Jesus responds better than we would. He says, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it-it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Martha seemed to be an intense woman with deep feelings, sure convictions, and strong faith. She clearly is a powerful person, she’s bold and she’s got it together. However, she misses a moment. She could have partaken in what Jesus had for her. She could have literally sat down to eat and pray and talk with Jesus. She forgot. She forgot who was coming to dinner and was more focused on the dinner than experiencing Jesus.
My prayer for me and for you is that we wouldn’t forget that Jesus calls and invites us to His table. In John 15:5-8 He says, “But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. I love you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love.” I hear His Holy Spirit whispering, “Receive everything that I have for you. Don’t be a stranger in your own home.”
Jesus clearly points out, over-functioning erodes your spiritual life, preventing you from experiencing Christ’s love. This happens when we cross the line and put ourselves in charge of running God’s world, and we know this is happening when we don’t have time for God.
Over-functioning causes us to be resentful, steal our joy and keep us distracted and from having true intimacy with Jesus. I urge you to start looking at what you can take off of your plate and hand to someone else. Whether it’s in your marriage, parenting, workplace or friendships. Listen, ladies, this is not easy because it’s change and change is hard and will throw people off when they are used to you doing for them what they should be doing for themselves.
Martha’s over-functioning was cloaked in the guise of caring for the needs of others. She confused caring with having to take care of them. We end up taking more responsibility for people than God wants us to. We put ourselves at the bottom of the heap. We don’t take time for ourselves to rest and play and celebrate the things in our life that God has given us. Self-care is important. If we don’t care for or love ourselves, we can’t take care of others well. Bitterness and resentment can cause hate. Hate is an ugly word. Cory Demmel said it this way. “If you hate you, you can’t love them.”
My sweet friends, please stop over-functioning. This is a trap of the enemy when we think “I’m the one holding everything together. I’m the glue.”
Stop trying to be God. Everything will NOT fall apart. It may not be easy but it is well worth the chaos. And get the book The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero. It will help you begin the journey to freedom in this area.
Girl, slow down, take a breath and spend some time to sit with Jesus.
Heather Garner is one of the strongest women I know. She loves passionately, listens carefully and always looks for ways to help people. She is a great mom who is raising her kids to live in the grace and truth of Jesus. She is the Care Director at Cape Christian, leads the Prayer Team and so much more. She is discovering her voice and allowing God to use her to bring freedom and hope to others. – Cindy Grasso
I love this Heather! We read this book in s Bible study I did a few years ago
I do believe it was called Being a Mary in a Martha World, or something close to that. But learned a lot from it. And I absolutely love what you wrote. It is so true. I try to work on this everyday. Thanks for sharing!