Culture, Faith

Mary vs. Martha (the predecessor to the American 2010 woman)

As I prepare to wrap up my (publicly) shared thoughts on being a Proverbs 31 woman in light of all the recent changes in my life, I am led to the story of Mary and Martha.  In Luke 10:38-42, we find the story of Jesus going to the home of Mary and Martha…

38Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

*Just a note- for a great take on this passage and related issues, read this. It is scary how my mother and I think alike, as we have both been contemplating these issues yet had not discussed our thoughts with each other until she wrote this.

Anyway, I long to be a Mary.  Well, more honestly, part of me longs to be a Mary and part of me is satisfied as Martha, at least until I get to that last verse…You see, I am good at being anxious and troubled, and I am even good at staying busy keeping things nice around the house (although never nice enough in my opinion–and in comparison to others).  Uh-oh, comparisons, now THOSE can be dangerous and man, am I good at comparisons (clearly nothing to brag about as they can be quite sinful).  Anyway, I like staying busy, it makes me feel good about myself when my house is clean and everything is as I feel it should be.  And perhaps that is okay…to a point.  Where I think (okay, KNOW) it becomes a problem is when it supercedes spending time with Jesus.  I may be good at keeping things picked up (as good as one can be when they have a toddler, newborn, and crazy dog) but you know what?  I am not so good at prioritizing my time with the Lord.

I often forget to do my quiet time with God, or to take time to not only talk to Him, but to REALLY listen.  I forget this even though one of my regular prayers (and regular admissions of sin) is that I would do a better job of consistently spending time with my Lord because I stink at it currently.

It is incredibly easy to fall into Martha mode.  Especially now that I am at home with my children.  I guess, for me, this is because I feel that I need to be doing something all the time since I’m not “working” (clearly, I realize the ridiculousness of this statement since the calling to be a mother and devoting your entire day to raising your children certainly qualifies as “doing something”…).  But I think for women in general, Martha mode is something we all struggle with.  Is this because so many of us define our worth based on what we do rather than Who we should do it for?

It is much harder to take time to be with Jesus than it is to stay busy.  Staying busy is what the American 2010 woman is supposed to be all about.  Work a full-time job, be a wife, a mother, host parties, engage in church activities, do charity events, serve as chef, chauffeur, etc, etc.  I have already decided that I do not want to be one of those families that has something scheduled every night of the week.  We aren’t teaching our kids how to  to be satisified just playing outside or using their imagination, because as adults, we don’t model the art of just “being” rather than doing.  When Jesus says to Martha that Mary has “taken the good portion, which will not be taken from her”, I want to learn to take that seriously and apply it to my life.  If Mary, not Martha, has the good portion because she is taking time from busy-ness to be with Jesus, then that is quite the lesson for me.  This does not promote idleness, as Mary wasn’t in front of the television all day while there were things to be done.  Rather, it promotes servanthood in a higher form than Martha’s (as she was serving her guests as well).  Servanthood in denying a woman’s natural tendency to be busy in order to do what we are called to do.  Servanthood in submitting to a higher calling than wife and mother.  A calling to “love the Lord God with all our heart, souls, and might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)…servanthood to the King.

That is the kind of woman God calls us to be, as evidenced in the contrast of Mary and Martha.  Combining this with what is learned from the Proverbs 31 woman and in Titus 2, I feel both freedom and a challenge.  Freedom to explore how to become this woman, and the challenge to do so.  Big challenge, Big God.  This is going to take some work, but I’m not in it alone.  What a comfort that God promises to complete the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6)-  He has a long way to go with me!