Choose Well (a distracted Martha in a world that admires merry Mary)



“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

I’ve heard about Martha and Mary so often, I almost zoned out during Sunday’s sermon because the message is always the same, “Be merry like Mary.”

The biblical story (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) is about Martha preparing the house and food, and worrying about many things. While she worked, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened.

Instead of learning from Mary, I’ve sat in plenty of pews and resented her. What “Martha” wouldn’t? Mary didn’t mind sitting around while her sister worked. And Jesus didn’t suggest Mary help Martha so both women could sit at his feet. Instead, Martha ended up fatigued and frustrated while Jesus commended Mary for choosing well.

It wasn’t until last Sunday that I heard the sisters’ story changed up and Martha talked about with compassion. I had never heard anyone give her a break much less show her grace. I had never thought to do either one myself. I spent my time wishing I wasn’t like her.


I teared up when I heard our minister talk gently about the Martha in scripture, as well as all the Marthas in the sanctuary.

For the first time, instead of focusing on and resenting Mary, I fell in love with Martha. I understood how hard it was for her to stop working, to stop doing, to stop trying. I heard how she loved Jesus like Mary loved him even though Martha couldn’t sit still and enjoy moments with him. I felt sad hearing how Martha missed the moment, the magic, and the message (from a quote by Rev. Chuck Murphy).

What I’d thought was Jesus’ criticism of Martha turned out to be his encouragement when he told her, “Do these things.”

He wanted Martha to follow Mary’s example, and not because Martha disappointed him and Mary was favored, but because he loved Martha. He wanted her, like Mary, to choose well.

 I thought, Maybe it’s time to forgive Mary, and time to make friends with Martha and myself.

I wish I could put into words what that moment was like, the moment I felt grace for who I am. I’ve wanted to think differently about Martha in the midst of a world that admires Mary, but still wants the job done. I’ve wanted to accept Martha’s dilemma in a world that secretly believes good works get us to heaven no matter how often the church says it’s by grace, and this may be the same church where we feel guilty for not doing enough. I wanted to help Martha in a world where we’re reminded we have a purpose, but we forget the reason is to glorify God, not “worthify” ourselves


I gently remind myself a dozen times a day when I’m working feverishly, worrying, or distracted, “There you go again being Martha.”

This simple prompt helps me slow down and choose well. It helps me with #GettingYourOwnLife. It helps me “look up” like in this quote shared on Facebook by friend Lucille Zimmerman. Thanks, Lucille.

“The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendor to all those willing to look up.” Irina Serban

 I hope something in this post helps you, as well.

In This Together,
A recovering Martha

Thanks for the golden photo that looks like heaven, Joel Carter. Thanks for the other photos,


13 responses »

  1. Thank you for sharing Kim! I can so relate to your feelings on this subject…esp. since I too am a Martha! 🙂 Time for both of us to slow down a bit and just take time to enjoy what God has given us!

    • I knew we were kindred spirits the first time we met, Vicki. ❤ I'm happy we're both willing to accept ourselves, and also recover so we can enjoy downtime, as well as you enjoying your Jafra trip next year. 🙂 I know it's coming your way. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Kim
    The message is clear but hard. We need good works to fulfill our faith. We need faith to inspire our good works. There are times for both “Martha-ing and Mary-ing”
    It is all in the timing and prioritizing.

    • I like “Martha-ing and Mary-ing.” 🙂 I may use it in my next post since I’m addressing this very thing, the need to live our purpose. I appreciate when one blog post leads to another one. Thanks, Bob.

  3. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Cathy Baker, Tami Seaborn and 21 others

    3 shares (Helen Henson, Patty Anderson, Treasured Women)

    Joel Carter Kim, Shared with One in His Spirit.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 19 at 9:38pm

    Kim Henson Thanks so much, Joel Carter. Your golden photo is spectacular.
    Like · Reply · August 19 at 9:39pm

    Joel Carter Thank you Kim. Your blog illustrates very well the typical personal dilemma of making time for the important instead of the urgent. Great writing
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 19 at 9:42pm

    Kim Henson Joel Carter, thank you!
    Like · Reply · August 19 at 10:13pm

    Patty Henson Anderson This is lovely and inspiring.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 19 at 11:14pm

    Kim Henson Thanks so much, Patty Henson Anderson. I appreciate your comment and you sharing the post. ❤ I love you.
    Like · Reply · August 19 at 11:18pm

    Summer Turner Kim, I love your emotional connection to the suffering and humiliation people are walking around with.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 19 at 11:50pm

    Kim Henson Summer Turner, I do feel especially connected to broken people because I feel so broken. ❤ I mean, we're all broken, but I mean the really broken ones of us. John says I attract the weirdest friends. I say he doesn't recognize how weird I am. :)I appreciate my messiness as being my connection with others. I love you (doesn't mean you're weird … lol).
    Like · Reply · 2 · August 20 at 12:00am · Edited

    Summer Turner #proudtobeweird I wonder where hashtags go. I don't do Twitter. That might be weird.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 12:11am

    Kim Henson Summer Turner, if you click on it, you get to see where it goes. 🙂 To a special and weird place.
    Like · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 12:26am

    Summer Turner Ooh, I did it. That was interesting…
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 12:31am

    Kim Henson Summer Turner, it is interesting. It's the way I decide on hashtags. I don't want to end up somewhere that has a lot of not-so-good posts.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

    Suzanne Carlisle Vick Beautiful!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 10:24am

    Kim Henson Thank you, Suzanne Carlisle Vick. ❤
    Like · Reply · August 20 at 11:14am

    Linda Sandlin Shared! You did good. Loved the reasoning and explanation. Both are loved regardless of how they serve.

    Kim Henson I appreciate you sharing the post, as well as your reassuring comment, Linda Sandlin. It was comforting to hear I could love Jesus just as much as my Mary friends even though I don't easily sit still with Him. ❤ I also love that He doesn't want me to miss out any longer. I don't either. 🙂
    Like · Reply · August 20 at 9:12pm

    Linda Sandlin I have also watched Mary's trying to do what Martha's do and only create confusion and bring discord among others. 🙂
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 12:12pm

    Kim Henson Linda Sandlin, I've never thought about that, but it's true.
    Like · Reply · August 20 at 9:33pm

    Christy Young I feel a personal connection with this one. This scripture holds a special place in my heart. I love this perspective. We have much to learn, even from the scriptures we have read and heard repeatedly. I love that.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 12:14pm

    Kim Henson Christy Young, I couldn't believe it took 50 plus years to hear the loving side of these verses. ❤ It'll keep me paying better attention in church from now on, for sure. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.
    Like · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 10:15pm

    Karen Dishman Jantzi Inspiring sweet Girl!! Sharing!!! Ly
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 3:17pm

    Kim Henson Thank so much, Karen Dishman Jantzi. ❤ Ly2
    Like · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 10:15pm

  4. From Facebook (Patty Anderson) ~

    Beautiful …

    Sara Wise, Suzanne Carlisle Vick and 4 others

    Kim Henson Awww, thanks, Patty Henson Anderson. ❤ Praying for y'all every day.
    Like · Reply · August 19 at 11:17pm · Edited

  5. From Facebook (Treasured Women) ~

    Thank you, sweet Kim Henson! Much needed!!

    Martha J. Walker Curtis

    Kim Henson Awww, thanks, Karen Dishman Jantzi! I love you. ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · August 20 at 9:13pm

  6. Kim, I’ve struggled with this Martha/Mary thing for a long time. I even have a book, Being a Mary in a Martha world (or something like that). At times I’ve been both, and felt criticized both ways. These days I’m Martha on steroids because who else is going to do the things I do (caregiving stuff). I think this is what God wants me to do but who knows. Thanks for shedding some more light on this issue. I think this is one of my favorites among your posts. They’re all good, but this one speaks to me.

    • Mary, I thought about you while I wrote this one. ❤

      Sometimes we're Martha because we have to be … like caretaking someone sick or like my daughter running after two young children. As much as I love the idea of getting more comfortable with sitting still and finding the magic in those moments, I know I'll never spend much time humming on a mountaintop. 🙂 It's just not me. But Mary offers a good reminder. She's growing on me.

  7. Pingback: One Foot On a Banana Peel, the Other at Kentucky Fried Chicken (a post about answering our calling at the age we are) | S. Kim Henson ~ Getting Your Own Life while Loving the People in It.

  8. Pingback: Create Something Besides Chaos | S. Kim Henson ~ Getting Your Own Life while Loving the People in It.

  9. Pingback: One Foot On a Banana Peel, the Other at Kentucky Fried Chicken (a post about answering our calling at the age we are) - S. Kim Henson

  10. Pingback: Create Something Besides Chaos - S. Kim Henson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s