Being Mary in a Martha World
Anyone that has spent much time around me can likely attest that I don’t ‘sit’ well. I like to ‘do’. There’s ALWAYS something that needs to be taken care of. Even if I’m not actively doing it, I promise you in my mind, I’m THINKING about ALL that needs to be done.
Laundry, dishes, floors, yard work, weeds-why are there are ALWAYS weeds that need pulling?? The dog needs a bath and nails trimmed; the car needs to be washed and vacuumed; the garage needs to be cleaned and organized; the kids need…on and on…and on. My hope is that you cannot relate, but I’m betting you can.
Maybe it’s a ‘woman’ thing or a ‘mom’ thing or a ‘me’ thing, but as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had this never-ending to-do list; it drives Chris nuts! It’s this crazy personality quirk in me that when I read the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and her sister Mary, in Luke 10:38-42, I have ALWAYS disagreed with Jesus’s response to Martha. (shh! Don’t tell Jesus that I think he got this one wrong, but clearly, He did!)
Here’s my version. Martha and Mary have invited Jesus and his friends over to their house for dinner. As any good southern woman would do, she cleans her house from top to bottom-including those random closets no one ever looks in but somehow NOW MUST be cleaned. She cooks a wonderfully complicated, but ‘casual’ meal that everyone loves-it’s exhausting to be this hospitable. Her home must be neat, inviting, warm, and welcoming, etc. THIS doesn’t JUST happen-it requires work and help and stress and probably some yelling at the kids to not touch whatever the food is she’s making because it’s for the guests and not sit on the couch that she JUST straightened, and can’t they go quietly play in their rooms-but not make a mess..and so on. Or, maybe that’s just at my house?
So as Martha, who I TOTALLY get, is running around trying to get everything ‘perfect’ for Jesus-I mean, come on..the pressure of that! She asks Jesus to have him ask Mary to stop being lazy and help! (I’ve ALWAYS thought that must have been an awkward conversation, but I’m assuming Martha felt like SURELY Jesus would see and get where she’s coming from.) But instead of Jesus telling Martha, “I totally get it; she is being lazy and really should help you,” He admonishes Martha for not having her priorities correct! Seriously, this has baffled me my ENTIRE life until God spoke to my heart one day.
Over and over again in the Bible, God tells us to sit and rest and that His burden is light. Over and over He tells us to come to HIM, and He will give us rest. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many women, much less moms, that are overflowing in the ‘rest’ department. If anything, we haven’t seen nor experienced rest in YEARS-potentially decades.
So, what IS God telling us? Not to do laundry or dishes or work to feed our kids? No.
Jesus is reminding us that we have our priorities out of line. We’re tired BECAUSE we do EVERYTHING ELSE we feel obligated to do FIRST and ONLY IF we haven’t collapsed on the floor, THEN MAYBE we’ll spend a quick 3-5 minutes with Him. We put the kids, our husband, the house, our friends, our careers, the laundry even ahead of God. Sure, we would never admit to that publicly, but our actions and HOW we live our life reflect the reality.
If that’s the case, then what should we be doing differently?
God wants us to live the way He created us where our lives are grafted to His. Where we are so closely intertwined with Him that we CAN rest-mentally, emotionally, physically whatever the circumstance. God wants our priorities to align with His and not with the Father of Lies who whispers our value is found in what we accomplish or what others think of us.
We graft our lives with God’s when we START by spending time with Him FIRST-period. We start with Him and allow HIM to prioritize our time on our behalf so that we have a clearer understanding of what really is eternally important and what isn’t. When we spend time with God first, we invite Him into HELPING US better manage our day. When we spend time with God FIRST, we allow God the opportunity to move on our behalf and potentially lift some of the burden off our shoulders. We allow room for the Holy Spirit to work.
We’ll never know what would have happened if Martha had sat and rested at Jesus’s feet FIRST. Maybe Jesus would have preformed another miracle and the food and home would have been miraculously prepared without their assistance? Maybe the disciples would have chipped in? Maybe Mary would have told Martha to rest, and she would take care of the work? When we don’t START with God and invite Him into our day to work on our behalf, we cost OURSELVES the chance to see His hand at work in our lives lightening our load. We will never know how much rest we might actually experience if we only STARTED with God.
And if I was to be perfectly honest, I run around like a crazy woman cleaning and cooking before guests because I want to ‘impress’ them; I want them to think well of me. Should someone else’s opinion REALLY matter so much to me that I yell at my kids and make everyone around me miserable? Or should I be MORE concerned with my relationship to GOD and my family and WHO I am and HOW I treat people and make THAT my priority-not the arbitrary cleanliness of my house or taste of a meal?
In the end, God wants us to focus on things with an eternal perspective not compounding our busyness and stress in our life doing things He likely NEVER asked us to do in the first place.