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!

Culture, Faith, Family

Proverbs 31 versus American 2010 Part 2 (aka “What’s Titus Got To Do With It?”)

After my last post on the Proverbs 31 woman, I have continued to search Scripture for more verses relating to a woman’s role, stay-at-home mom, working out-of-the-home mom, whatever the case may be (of course, the verses also apply fully to all women, single, married, without children, etc.).  My focus though, of course, is trying to figure out who God would have me be in light of all the recent changes in my life, so forgive me when I primarily write about my thoughts from a stay-at-home mom perspective.

That said, I took my thoughts from studying the Proverbs 31 woman and also began exploring Titus 2, focusing on verses 3-5.

3Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

As I try to figure out how to balance being a wife and mother with (simply?) being a woman, I find some helpful information, ironically, in a letter written by one man (Paul) to another (Titus).  Granted, Titus was entrusted with reading this to his fellow believers, but still… Anyway, these 3 verses focus on not only how older women should conduct themselves, but also on what they are to teach younger women.  Included in this training is loving their husbands and children, being self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and the S-word…submission.  Now that last word is often considered on par with the other S-word by our society as a whole, including many Christians.  Not many of us like to submit to anyone; we want to do things the way we want, when we want.  Myself included- just ask my husband.

Before I get too off-topic, I just want to point out that submission does not equal doormat, but it does acknowledge that ultimately, our husbands have the final say.  Look at it this way…submission is INCREDIBLY HARD, but in Ephesians, husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loves the church.  They have the much more difficult job, I think!

Back to Titus.  What stands out to me currently is the “working at home” part- I’m in the process of trying to discern what this means exactly.  I think it means that whether you stay-at-home or not, your priority should be having the house in order, and that yes, if you are a stay-at-home mom, you are still working, you’ve just relocated.

It also speaks to idleness, as did Proverbs 31.  The mere idea of working immediately cancels out idleness.  That doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks to relax, but it certainly blows the whole cliche of “sitting-at-home-in-pajamas-watching-soap-operas-and-eating-bon-bons” out of the water.  (*Note: I do not engage in either.  I do, however, like to catch up on shows via Hulu occasionally while nursing Asher (since I am limited with other activities at this time anyway) and I may partake of some popcorn or, my personal favorite, Blue Bunny Peanut Butter Panic ice cream every once in awhile, but this is not a regular occurrence.  Especially as I am trying to lose the baby weight.)

Also of note is the title the English Standard Version (or as my husband calls it, “the cool kids translation”) uses for this section of Titus–“Teach Sound Doctrine”.  I find it incredibly awesome that the virtues younger women are to be taught are considered sound doctrine.  Add to that the reason we are to be taught these virtues…”that the Word of God may not be reviled”, and I am struck by what a high calling it is to be a young woman.  We are to engage in being kind, pure, and working at home in order to present the Word of God in such a way that it is not abused (another word for reviled).  This, in turn, is a powerful witness to others.

This certainly gives me some comfort as I look to find meaning in the life I have chosen inside my front door.