Episode 62: Claire McGarry on The Tension Between Doing and Being

you Aug 16, 2022
Claire McGarry knows the tension between doing and being

"Do more for your family" and "Be present in the moment" are conflicting messages that moms hear everyday. You may have heard it described as being a Mary or a Martha.

Claire McGarry felt that tension and began to look deeper at that Bible story about those famous sisters. Along the way she discovered a gift from that story.

In this episode Claire shares her G-I-F-T method where we

G-Gauge what our stress is
I-Invite it in
F-Filter through it with God's loving eyes
T-Transform it into grace at the feet of Jesus

You can go even deeper in the book she has written called Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary.

  Some themes you'll hear in this episode are

  • we need both doing and being, and
  • right action with the wrong intention, or wrong action with right intention will leave us feeling unbalanced
  • In doing or being, Jesus can help us realign and choose the best

Connect with Claire on FacebookInstagram, or her website.

Claire's favorite gadget is her DustBuster! 

Hear it:

Watch it:

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This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 62

 

Jennifer Uren
Claire McGarry is the author of Grace In Tension:  Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, and the Lenten family devotionals, Abundant Mercy and With our Savior. She's the founder of mosaic of faith as well as a regular contributor to living faith Mornings with Jesus and Catholic Mom. She's also a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in These Days, The Secret Place, Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Keys for Kids, which is near and dear to my heart, is I looked forward to that arriving in my mailbox when I was a kid. And if that's not enough writing for you, she also blogs at shiftingmyperspective.com. Claire is a former lay missionary to Guatemala now living in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. So welcome, Claire.

Claire McGarry
Thank you so much, Jenn. I'm thrilled to be here.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, thanks for being here. So that told us a lot about you, mostly professionally, but I'd love to hear a little bit more about Guatemala. How long did you live there? Were you a single woman? And then what brought you to New Hampshire?

Claire McGarry
Sure, sure. So I was in Guatemala for three years through Franciscan mission service. I chose them specifically because of St. Francis. His motto is preach the gospel always use words when necessary. And for me, I find people's example, to be what inspires me most not as much as their words, but their example. So that's why I chose Franciscan mission service. So I was there for three years and did a variety of jobs, but primarily worked with a children's sponsorship program. So families from the US would sponsor a Guatemalan child, and I would visit the home of the child and help them write their letter and then translate it into English, send it to the States. And when the when it came back, translate it back into Spanish from the host family and bring it to the child and the gifts or whatever the money was allocated to be used for. Because sometimes it wasn't just for the child, if there was something, a tool that would help the dad farming, which ultimately would put food on the table for the child. So it was, you know,

Jennifer Uren
More holistic for the whole family

Claire McGarry
You got it. And so then, lots happened when I came back, but eventually met and married my husband, I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and that's where I met him. And that's where we were living. And that's where we started our family. But anyone from this area knows that once you cross the border from Massachusetts into New Hampshire, actually not so much now. But back when we moved 17 years ago, you could get a bigger home on a bigger lot for the same price that you could get a teeny tiny home on a teeny tiny lot in Massachusetts. So that was the inspiration behind moving to New Hampshire, and we love it here best decision we ever made.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, we've done something similar recently moving from Chicago land in Illinois, into Northwest Indiana, because cost of living is just less and you get get a little more. And that was good for our family. So I totally understand that. Well, excellent. Well, today we're going to talk a little bit more about the thing that you know, which is ultimately this tension between doing and being. But before we get to the heart, the heart of that tension between being a Mary and Martha, let's back up a little bit. Because as you know, this is a podcast for mompreneurs. And so we especially talk about the things that make it easier to be our best as both mom and entre, entrepreneur. So tell us a little bit about your mompreneur journey as you created a business around writing.

Claire McGarry
Sure. So in the beginning, it was very much where the little pockets I could find in the midst of motherhood. So motherhood, and my kids were top priority. They were little. They were demanding. I was drowning most times. And so it was where the little pockets I could fit it in. And then simultaneously, they were growing up and becoming more independent, at the same time that I was getting a little more traction in writing. And so the scale tipped to the other way. Now I'm able to you know, the big rock that I placed in the jar first now is like interviews like this where my kids now have to go entertain themselves, be quiet, they know they have to be respectful. And so I can plan family life a little bit more around writing, interviews, deadlines, whatever, you know, pops up in the writing world a lot of it because I can be in charge of a good portion of the scheduling. That's the beauty of it, versus if I had an office job where I had to be there at certain hours. So that flexibility helps. But that shift has definitely happened between fitting it in and now working around it.

Jennifer Uren
Yes. And that's interesting to hear you point out that even when life was crazy, this was important. And so you found I've heard it described elsewhere as the cracks and the chunks. And so you found those crack times to work on it, which is what gave you what you were when you had chunk time, you were ready to take advantage of that in a way you wouldn't have been, if you hadn't just started doing it.

Claire McGarry
Exactly.

Jennifer Uren
So yeah. So what were the main priorities that you wanted to focus your energy on when it came to your family, and when it came to your business? And really, as you began to be published and had deadlines, you know, how did you balance those? I mean, you mentioned the shift in control. But sometimes, even though you don't have a nine to five, sometimes there's a deadline, and that does sort of dictate what happens. So how did you, how do you tackle all those things?

Claire McGarry
Well, for my family, my top priorities, are values in quality time, I feel like especially as I have two boys that are teenagers, and a daughter who's in a tweenager. And so you know, they have social media, they're on their phones, they're you know, they're on Netflix, and all these other streaming services that doesn't have that don't have the same censorship that primetime television has, although those lines have wiggled a whole lot. So I have to work very hard to keep them grounded. And it's a top priority to keep them grounded in our values and morals. And just a quick side note, the beauty of the pandemic was just that I was able to pull them back in, because the outside world shut down. And so I was able to root them deeper, as well as quality time. So, you know, I do have less time than I did before. So that when there is time to be together to try to make it more quality, more memorable, but also, too, taking advantage of every single moment along the way, which kind of drives my kids crazy of turning it into a teaching moment. They're like, "Oh, here she goes again." So those, those are my priorities for family. As far as my writing goes, my top priority is to write for God, because all of my writing is faith based. It's all rooted in Scripture, it all comes from my time in prayer. So that is absolutely my top priority there. And as far as juggling it all in managing deadlines and priorities. Ever since my kids were little, my husband and I established a routine, where every Saturday morning, we call it being on deck. He's on deck for Saturday morning. So that is my time to get my coffee and my breakfast, go up into my room. And then he I'm on deck on Sunday, he can go off and go running with his friends. But during my time on Saturday morning, I call it my global planning, I take a look at the entire week coming up and do strategic planning of how it's all going to work. And sometimes when you get that time and space, sometimes when you're too mired in it, it's hard to recognize the priorities. But if we have that quiet time, and I blend it in with my prayer time, the priorities bubble up to the top I have a lot more clarity in how to fit it all in. And so it becomes this strategic scheduling session. And it's also the time when I pick up all those balls that I dropped from the previous week.

Jennifer Uren
I love that I love that concept. Because you've negotiated well then with your husband, all of the needs, personal, business, family in a way that says how can we work as a team to move us all forward instead of you know, me, me, me, you know, you don't do enough for me or I'm always doing for you. So I love that. That's that's a fabulous, that's a fabulous way to think about it. Some I think some of us do that, but we haven't named it and so naming it I think is really helpful to say yes, this is of value what I'm doing here.

Claire McGarry
And it also gives me hope during the week when I feel those balls all crashing down. It's okay on Saturday I'll regroup. Yes, it's to know that time is coming. And the priority is to pull it all back together gives me hope and I feel you know, I feel more confident as I go through my week,

Jennifer Uren
Because you've built in margin essentially to say, okay, it's okay. I've got time. So well, I often say that every business "yes" can feel like a parenting "no" and that's when mom kicks mum guilt kicks in. But the reality behind that statement is that it is choosing a task over a relationship. And that highlights that tension between doing and being, which is a good segue to talk about Mary and Martha. But not everyone listening comes from a faith background. So why don't you take a minute and tell us exactly who Mary and Martha are, and what their names have become synonymous with in today's culture.

Claire McGarry
Sure, sure. So, Martha and Mary are from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1038, to 42. And they are friends of Jesus, they're also the sisters of Lazarus. So Jesus is passing through with his disciples and decides to stop and visit with them. And it becomes a dinner party, in essence in today's terms, and in the process of the dinner party, the sisters make different choices. Mary chooses to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to everything that he has to say, where Martha chooses to do and prepare and cook the meal and serve the meal. But in this process, there is a lot of tension, because Martha takes on too much and gets worried and distracted, and goes to Jesus and says, "Tell her, tell Mary to get up and help me." So I think the world at large labels, the two sisters, as Mary is the one being with Jesus, and Martha is the one doing for Jesus.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. So I'm very task oriented and I tend to relate a little bit more to Martha. And so I cringe when I hear this story. And the bottom line is often said, Mary equals good, and Martha equals bad. And then it's widely applied to all things domestic or relational. And in reality, both are needed and necessary. But it's situational. It's the situation that drives what the priority is. And I would go even further to say that, that's one of the reasons why we want to put in the hard work of doing and making good systems, so that it supports us and gives us the time and the space for connection and flexibility for relationship. But what is the tension that you see at play? And how did you come to this idea of grace and peace being necessary from both perspectives?

Claire McGarry
Well, what happened was, I mean, like everyone, I feel stress and tension. And I think we all felt that ratchet up big time during COVID. And it was while reflecting on the scripture passage, like you I was relating to Martha, and I'm a big Martha cheerleader, I think she gets the short end of the stick, because like you said, she's labeled, her choices are labeled bad and Mary's are labeled good. And I don't believe that's the case. And I tried to make that case for her for Martha in the book. But there is so much to be learned from the both of them. And it was while meditating on this passage, and reflecting on my life in general, and how I had always handled stress and tension, I shouldn't say always, the times that I had handled it positively, because there are certainly times I did not go through my stress and tension with grace. But every time I brought it to the feet of Jesus, and every time I spent time with him, he revealed a gift tucked within the tension. And I started to recognize that tension can actually be a positive. Tension is telling us something isn't right. Something needs to change whether we need to change an outward task or systems that we've put in place that aren't working anymore, because what might have worked, you know, at the beginning of our business doesn't work as it grows, what might have worked when our kids were little doesn't work as they get older. And sometimes the change can happen, it needs to happen inwardly because it's our response to something that is getting the train off the track. And so I recognized in that process of spending time with him, that there was actually a pattern to the steps he was taking me through. And the very cool thing is that this gift acronym sort of floated up from the notes that I had taken from all my journaling and that the gift acronym actually are the steps so that g of gift is gauge. So when we go to the feet of Jesus, we need to gauge or identify or name what our stress intention is. Because I think far too often we label the symptom and not the root cause. You cannot fix something, if you haven't identified or gauged what it is, right, because focusing on the symptom doesn't fix the problem. So then comes the I of gift, I felt God, asking me to invite my tension in. So if it's not going to put us in spiritual and mortal danger, I believe he wants us to sit with it. Because sometimes the more we run away from it, the more it grows. But if we can face it and look it in the eye, we loosen our hold on the emotions around it. And when we loosen our hold on our emotions, they lose their hold on us. And that's when we get clarity, because it's our emotions that cloud the picture. So that's when we can use that F from the word gift, which is looking through the filter of God's loving eyes, because I truly believe he is always working for our good, even in the midst and through our stress and tension. So when we can finally see the situation through his eyes, that's when we can identify the good. Once we've identified the good, He illuminates the T, which is the what we need to do to transform that stress and tension into grace and He any partners with us. So we don't feel overwhelmed.

Jennifer Uren
Mmmmm

Claire McGarry
And usually it's just a baby step. Usually, it's just a minor change. But that gauge invite filter transform is what helped me realize there's a pattern, but there's also a gift. And that tension is telling us something, and we need to just take a pause, check in with him. And he'll lead us through to see, because once we implement that, everything just smooths out. It's you could think of it magically, but it's actually miraculously.

Jennifer Uren
Right. Well, and it's interesting that first one with the the g of gauging, because I learned, you know, with my parent teen, that you know, all behavior is a symptom of something else happening. But we are often, so I've learned to shift my parenting from the symptom and the behavior to what is causing this. But I've never really thought about that for me. Like how do I sit and say, "Oh, yes. So when I behave this way," I'm focused on fixing that behavior, as opposed to thinking about an underlyingroot cause for it. So that's, that's a little eye opening. So I appreciate that. And so you really you do talk a lot about balance. And, you know, years ago, I wrote an article on balance and talked about the tight rope and how tension is good. If you don't have tension, you can't cross it. If you have too much tension, it's going to snap and you need the right amount of tension for something to to work. Well. I mean, it's, it's the same with you know, pressure on from the outside and keeping things together. But so this gift acronym, then is really how you would say we would we would strive to achieve balance in our life by going through this with whatever it is that is frustrating us or causing us stress. Is that correct?

Claire McGarry
Yes. And I, and I think what I believe happens in that passage with Martha and Mary is each in their own way, go through that, and then have more lessons to teach us in order to keep that balance. So I think Mary, for example, I do this hypothesis that perhaps what I noticed was initially when Jesus, Jesus arrives at the door, Mary is not there. And I wondered, "What if she were actually in the kitchen? What if she were actually doing for him initially?" If that were the case, I think she would have felt tension and quickly identified it because she's such an intuitive person. And so I think what Mary teaches us is that our tension can be a bridge to cross back over and choose again. But then I have the thought, okay, she chooses to sit at his feet. What if she were sitting at his feet full of guilt? Because she knows she left it all to Martha. What if she were spending her time at his feet ruminating more on "ooh, I should be in the kitchen. I should be helping her. Ooh, she's gonna be mad at me. Did I make a wrong choice?" And I think sometimes when We make a right choice for the wrong reason. We're not living out our better part because our head and our heart isn't aligned, aren't aligned. And so I imagine if that were the case, Mary would have figured out, okay, I have this golden opportunity. Jesus is in my living room, I've got to let go of that guilt I've got to be fully present. And that's why it says "and listened to all he said", and I believe that's her better part was to fold right in right action with the right intention. Because if we don't have the right intention, and that's that balancing act, right. So if we take on too much, and we take it on for the wrong reasons, that's when we feel overwhelmed,

Jennifer Uren
yes

Claire McGarry
because our heart in our head are no longer aligned. And that's when the stress ratchets up. But I'm sure you've had the same experience of having an incredibly busy day, just one thing after another, but when your heart is in it, when you're doing it for all the right reasons. It's astounding how our energy level maintains what what is in front of us, it's like that multiplication of the fishes and the loaves, suddenly, our energy level is multiplied, we get through the day, we still have time for ourselves at the end - it's this wacky shift of time this time warp

Jennifer Uren
right?

Claire McGarry
Because our head and our heart are aligned. And the thing that Martha teaches us is that when we are overwhelmed, regardless of all the choices that Martha made, and all the intentions of why she did, and I go through a lot of them in my book about, you know, taking on too much, and she could have deferred things to another time, or maybe she's busy comparing herself, what ever she didn't do correctly, the one thing she did 100%, right, is she went to Jesus, when it was all falling apart. And that's, I believe, an incredible takeaway from that passage is when we have either chosen the right action with the wrong intention, or chosen the wrong action, and are feeling unbalanced, he is the one to go to, to realign and figure things out.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, that's excellent. And when those things are in alignment, then that's when we can be present in what we're doing and not distracted by the others or thinking about where we'd rather be at that time or what we should be doing instead. And that's really what feeds the quality in that quality time is

Claire McGarry
absolutely

Jennifer Uren
being present, not just physically. Yeah, it's easy to be distracted. Well, I that's that is, that is so helpful to look at it through that way too. And I've often wondered, like, if they'd had an instant pot, that would have changed everything for them, you know,

Claire McGarry
no, no, I still think Martha would have. She still would have added had she had that time saving device, she would have added another task to the plate. Okay. And I think that's what we Martha's do you find shortcuts, but then we think, Oh, the shortcut just gave me more time. Let me add something else to my plate.

Jennifer Uren
Yes. Yes. Well, that was a good description of getting into overwhelm. And that is very much part of my my backstory was, you know, out of people pleasing, I said yes to everything and didn't say no to anything. It didn't take anything off my plate. And so got to that point of, I can't do it, nor should I have been doing it all. And, you know, God graciously allowed it to all come crashing down to rebuild out of that. But yes, so there's a there's a mompreneur listening, I know who feels overwhelmed. And so that acronym will be very helpful to start to implement but as what is one thing, one specific thing she can do today, to extend that grace and peace to herself, as she's building her business and raising her family and fee, feeling that tension between the two?

Claire McGarry
I think, a heart check. I think because I think far too often we do head checks. We check in and we're trying to organize everything in our heads and we forget to do a heart check. And if the head and the heart align, then the choice is a good one. And I think similar to how we you know, it's not fun to discipline our children, but we do it because of the larger purpose, which is we know ultimately will help them in the end. And so if we do that haed and heart check of I'm doing this with the right intention, it gives us the resolve to carry it through. So when it comes to business, if there's a choice that we're making, that might be from an outsider's perspective, shortchanging our family, we need to do a head and we need to do a heart check and say, Is this for the greater good? Is this so that I can grow my business in order to benefit my family? And am I teaching my children a good lesson of everything does come with choices. And my choice is for the right intention. And that only happens when we do a heart check of why, why am I making this choice? Is it for the greater good? And if it is, there will be that peace in your heart. And if it's more out of selfish reasons, and avoidance, right, I made, I booked all these appointments today so I could avoid my kids, because it's a snow day and they're home or whatever,

Jennifer Uren
right?

Claire McGarry
If that intention isn't right, you're not going to feel that peace in your heart. So a quick heart check. And the more you do it, the the more you practice it, the better you get. And the quicker your answer comes.

Jennifer Uren
That's excellent. And I another guest at one point, describe that as the planting versus the harvesting. And sometimes we have to have these intense periods of time that do take us away from our family. But it's temporary, and it's for a bigger result later. And so I think that's a good reminder to have that filter to, to say, where is this? And, you know, what are my motives? Now, there's things I would love to avoid that I still have to do for the business and the family. So that may not always be my best filter. But, but anyway, I think that's excellent. And I'm looking forward to, to getting a copy of the book and reading it. So I'm excited about this. So as we wrap up, one of the things that I like to ask every guest, it's a little more lighthearted and fun, but what is your favorite time saving gadget, system, or tool?

Claire McGarry
My DustBuster,

Jennifer Uren
ah, ok

Claire McGarry
so I don't know if everyone knows what that is. But it's a small little handheld vacuum, it charges on a cord. And when you have to do a quick cleanup, we take it off the cord, it's nice and light. When my kids were little, I could assign it to them to just do it, I find everything gets kicked to the outer perimeters right in the kitchen. And so they you know, one task would be they would everyday have to vacuum the outer perimeter of all the rooms, and then anything big they saw in the middle of the room. So not only is it my quick tool, but it's an easy tool to delegate to your kids, you can also bring it to your car and clean up your car real quick. And it's just, and uh, I finally learned to invest in a good one. Because then it lasts longer and it actually does the job and half the time.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, so yeah, I was gonna say I've had them in the past and they just didn't hold up. So that's yes.

Claire McGarry
Go high-end. It's worth every penny.

Jennifer Uren
Good to know. Good to know. Well, thank you so much, Claire for your time today. How can people connect with you?

Claire McGarry
So I do have a blog called shifting my perspective, which is about how God always transforms how I view things. So shiftingmyperspective.com or they can reach it by ClaireMcGarry.com. They'll end up in the same place.

Jennifer Uren
Okay,

Claire McGarry
but I just want to thank you, Jenn. I've really enjoyed my time with you and I'm so grateful for this opportunity.

Jennifer Uren
Well, thanks for being here.

 

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