Thursday, January 31, 2013

She's So Martha

As a relative newcomer to the readings in the Bible, I was helpfully advised a few years ago to start with the book of Luke.  Which I did, and was so surprised to find myself in one of the stories one day.

[38] As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. [39] She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. [40] But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

[41] "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, [42] but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
It's like when you unexpectedly catch a glimpse of yourself on the news or in someone else's photo album.  There I am!  No, no, not Mary.  Not the one at Jesus's feet, peacefully soaking up His words.  The one there in the kitchen, resentfully banging around pots and pans, hoping to catch Jesus's attention with all of my hard work, growing irate with everyone else's laziness, and eventually fuming that no one is noticing all of my efforts.  Yeah, that one.

Oh, but Lord, you know me so well.  I am worried and bothered about so many things.  So much so that the motivation for my frenzied pace is so often not for Your glory.  Until reading that passage, while I realized my tendency toward martyrdom was a little on the annoying side, I didn't realize what an obstacle to living a spiritually rich life it was.  But it is. Like this summer, when my friend and fellow Sunday School teacher, Mary invited the kids and I to the beach and I responded with,

"But, I've got so much laundry to do."   To which she responded,

"Christi, Christi.  Laundry is what October through March are for in Illinois.  We have two short months in which to soak up the sunshine here."  She was right, by the way.  I'm getting a lot of laundry done this winter.  Or maybe it's just been too cold to change out of my long johns and fleece sweatshirt and into something clean.  Regardless, I chose laundry that day.  I forgo fellowship for folding clothes, but it wasn't the choice I made that was so wrong, it was the attitude I carried with it as I resentfully whittled away at the dirty clothes pile.  Had I chosen the beach, I likely would have been resentful with my dear friend for all of the work that awaited me at home.

After reading Luke for the first time, I spoke with Elaine, a mentor from a mom's prayer group that I belonged to.  I shared my observation of my kinship with Martha as we made small talk.  Elaine listened, nodding and empathizing as I spoke.  Then she responded,  "It's so true, and you'll find yourself relating to characters all through the Bible.  Keep reading Luke, though.  You'll find Martha to become one of Jesus's most faithful disciples as you continue."  Could this be true?  I listened as Elaine explained the story in a way I hadn't received it. I took her words to heart, only a little envious of her British accent, wishing I could sound so intelligent and likable at the same time.  I digress.

I'm reminded of my conversation with Elaine and of my first encounter with Martha today because for the first time that I can remember, my house is relatively clean and all of the dirty laundry fits in the dirty laundry hampers (which is as good as having all of the laundry done, in my opinion).  I've got almost all of my reports for work caught up.  My checkbook is balanced (call it the upside to being stuck inside with sick children during an ice storm). My children are tucked in bed.  And, the only important part of this list, I spent the day in and out of prayer.    I feel content (albeit cold) and I realize it's not the work, it's the motivation behind my work and the gentle reminder God's Word provided to help me adjust and re-adjust my mindset.


  1. Christi, I enjoyed this post. I see Martha in myself too. Its so easy to get overwhelmed with things that need to be done, and lose track of priorities.

    1. Thank you!! A small relief to know I'm not alone in this struggle :)

  2. Wow, I needed this today! Thank you!

  3. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. We miss you!

  4. Oh, Elisabeth! What a nice surprise :) Miss you too!

  5. Oh, Christi.....what a wonderful post! You are blessed not only with an ability to see life so clearly, but also to relect upon it with a Christ-like view and share with others via your uncanny (and downright hilarious, at times) command of language. Funny thing is, I've often felt like I was Martha, while you took Mary's role. Not a few times, have you caused me to take a deep breath and reconsider what is important. (by the way, you're an awesome beachmate).

  6. Mary, you are so gracious! Thank you for this comment!