“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, Pixabay.com.