Problem-Solving Like Mary

Where to start.

A tiny, frigid room full of 60+ babies and their foster parents… some fat and chunky, some not.  Some smiling and happy, some not.  I know we’re making a difference, but sometimes it feels mostly futile.  Like we can never really do enough.  Like we can’t really solve the problem.  I don’t like going on the trips because it reminds me of how far we still have to go.

I get frustrated because I think solutions don’t come quickly enough… I question efficacy and efficiency.  I want quantifiable results.  I want to fix it.  I don’t want to see a single baby who fails to gain weight for 3+ months.  Not a single one!  And though the formula project trips allow me to see many chubby little ones… I still see far too many who aren’t thriving.  Far too many who might not make it.  Maybe not for lack of formula, but for lack of specialized care and medical treatment.  It’s a complex problem with many deep, systemic issues… and it isn’t one that I can easily fix.

But I want to, and so often the trips make me feel like a failure.

I get angry.  At the “system.”  At the people around me.  At the injustice of a world where some have plenty and others do not.

I get judgmental.  About the caregivers.  The staff.  The people back home who just don’t “care enough.”  I have to confess something really dark and dirty.  When I came back, I had an email in my inbox asking for prayer for a 2 year old with a skin rash.  The first thought through my head was not a prayer… it was: Well that won’t kill him.

What has become of me?  I’m even getting all self-righteous on people asking for prayer for their children!!

I know Jesus isn’t glorified by my attitude.  I’m probably doing more harm than good.

But when I came back and talked to a friend about the trip, she encouraged me to reframe my perspective. She saw through my good intentions and hard work to the heart of the matter – that I feel like it’s my responsibility to solve the problem.  Though I probably would say that God is in control of the children’s lives, my behavior reflects a belief that if me and my colleagues don’t measure up, the problem will be forgotten.  I’m failing to be a co-laboror with Christ and am turning into a work-a-holic for a noble-sounding cause.  And that doesn’t bring Him glory or pleasure and only brings me frustration and weariness.  

It’s hard, isn’t it? To maintain balance in our lives when there are plenty of good causes and noble pursuits vying for our attention?  Like Martha, we busy ourselves with good and important work – from mothering to volunteering to providing for our families.  And like Martha, we get irritated at the Marys and fail to heed Jesus’ gentle reminder that resting at his feet is the better way.

I’ve begun noticing that more and more my heart yearns to be a Mary; to simply rest at his feet and let him carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.  I know if I carry it, it will crush me, but I still feel guilty when I stop and rest.  What if a baby dies because I just didn’t work hard enough?  The guilt-track starts playing through my head the instant I cease striving and try to rest.  Though I have no idea how to make it real in my life on a daily basis, I know I hear him calling me… all who are weary and heavy-laden, come to me and I will give you rest.  

You know what I think I’m finding out?  That when I’m trying to carry the burden by myself; when I’m shouldering more than my load, I quickly become disgruntled, angry, judgmental, and cynical.  I don’t look like Jesus.  I’m not reflecting His love.  But when I take the time to rest; when I cease striving, give him the problem and let him be God, I have more joy, peace, and faith that he’s go the whole world in his hands.

Though it may seem to be an oxymoron, spending time resting in him is really the only way to make a difference.

(Now if I could just figure out how to practice what I preach.)

16 thoughts on “Problem-Solving Like Mary

  1. Carrie, I really needed to hear what you had to say today! Thank you for being so gut-wrenchingly honest. You have helped me (and I'm sure many others) more than you know. I will pray that you will hear His still small voice calling you to rest in Him this week. I'm right there with you.
    Thanks again,


  2. I am so sorry your heart is heavy. It does seem that you have more than your share to carry. I will pray for peace for you. Just know that God is so pleased by the work you are doing. Through your stories many people are touched, and lives are changed. Do you know how many times I wished I was as brave as you? You are making a difference…a big one…through the Chinese children, and people, parents who have adopted and even strangers you do not know. Don't take that lightly. Big Hugs for you today!


  3. Carrie, I also struggle with wanting to be like Mary when in fact I am far too much like Martha! Sitting at the feet of Jesus is the only way we'll accomplish anything, yet I just love the feeling of running around and being busy…yup, there's definitely some work that needs to be done there on my end!

    I know these trips are hard for you…I can only begin to imagine how hard…but try to focus on the ones that ARE making it. There may be far too many that still aren't thriving, but rejoice in the ones that are! Each of them is a precious little miracle that you are working alongside Christ to keep healthy, and only HE knows the true impact…be it seemingly small…of the work that you are doing. I'd be willing to bet the impact is far more significant than you realize, though. 🙂


  4. It is a very hard thing to be a Mary, I can agree with you on that. “Why can't people just help a little more, then I wouldn't have to do so much?”
    Oh yes…I hear you.
    We are working on an adoption of an older son, and sometimes I stop and “count the cost” and my heart nearly stops…I need to pray and give the worry back to God again. But then I keep thinking I'd better get working to do my part,and viola! I'm back in the Martha mode again.


  5. Carrie, you guys are having a huge impact as we can personally attest to. You are doing a job that most would never dream of and that some of us wish we could do.

    We see one little result of your work at our feet every day and are so thankful that you are there.

    As for the Mary and Martha part, I struggle with that a lot too and find my self often so busy being a Martha to slow down and sit at His feet.

    Stay strong in all that you do.


  6. Have you ever sat listening to a teacher and felt like you were the only one in the room and the whole teaching was just for you?
    Yeah, that's how I feel right about now.
    I love your heart. Your Mary/Martha/Carrie heart! You are one precious individual sister!
    And I love the Collier's comment…tears!
    Countless lives are changed because of the work yall are doing…and even if just ONE little life was changed, that's HUGE!
    We pray for you all…and thank God for you everyday…


  7. Thank you so much for your honesty-and I can completely understand and relate to what you're saying-it's the same struggle I have, and you said it all so well. Praying for peace, and more of just abiding in Him.


  8. If you didn't struggle with this issue, I would honestly question whether or not you were human. It's something that most of us deal with and we aren't even close to carrying a load like yours. Praying you'll find time to rest at His feet and that He will fill you with HIs peace. Lisa


  9. There is not much more I could add to what has already been said to you. I love your honest heart Carrie…we all struggle with this same thing. The thing is though…you are living in the midst of so much need…SO much need….people in the states aren't…their needs are different. I wrote on my blog yesterday because I am feeling completely overwhelmed with language…Lottie and Emma…other competitive missionaries at language school. Is my situation desperate? No…not at all. But in the midst of it….it feels desperate to me. Some days I feel like I am drowning. You must feel this way every day….because the problem you are battling is just so gigantic! But your God is gigantic and your heart for these babies is gigantic! This is what I love about you….this is why you are there….I love you and pray for you.


  10. WOW, Carrie……….this post was so convicting to me. I have to admit having the same reaction as you when I hear prayers requests. It IS awful…..I've somehow prioritized what deserves God's attention and what doesn't as if His preoccupation with a simple matter would take away from another life-or-death matter.

    I have been learning this same lesson as of late- being in ministry has forced me to my knees and made me realize that it is not about me- even if God has something for me in it!

    Thanks for sharing so honestly!!


  11. Thank you Carrie for reminding us that not all things are blessings and good stuff and certain success all the time … as we might see them and quantify them in human terms. It is all SO much bigger than us. I wish there were more compassion and a “fix.” I wish I could be there to “help.” But it is ultra humbling to know that my help wouldn't really be all that helpful, at least not the insta-fix I would want. I guess maybe I'm where you were back when you thought all people should adopt and then there wouldn't be orphaned children. It's frustrating to be a parent, to love being a parent, to see someone need a parent and not be able to fill that need. Or even worse to have healthcare and see a baby who doesn't … that … oh that is horrible.

    I'm sorry that you get frustrated and angry and judgmental. It's human to do so though … and we all do it. You actually have a good reason though instead of something pointless like being frustrated that there's dust in your shelves again or that you missed the 3 for $4 sale at the mall.

    I have you in my thoughts and I've been wrestling with commenting on this since you posted. I didn't want it to sound trite. You have such wisdom to share and I thank you for that. We are all challenged to be more through your words. Thank you!


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