Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Martha, Martha, Martha!!!

Why is it so hard to be Mary?

Most of us are familiar with sisters Mary and Martha from the gospel. In Luke 10 we see that they are preparing for a meal with Christ. Martha is busy, busy, busy making preparations while Mary is seated at the foot of Christ, taking in his every word. Martha asks Jesus why he doesn't make Mary help her, and his answer is this: "Martha, Martha", the Lord answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her." (Luke 10: 41-42)

This past weekend we celebrated the dedication of our youngest son with several of our good friends and family. Following the Saturday evening service, we had a gathering at our home for food and fellowship. I started working on the menu three weeks ago.

We could have ordered in pizza. Or had a large sub sandwich pre-ordered from a sandwich shop, or even Wal-Mart for that matter. But, no. I insisted on making chicken enchiladas, rice and fresh green beans for twelve adults and five children. My husband suggested buying dessert, but I insisted on making dessert myself as well. I was so proud of myself, however, because I had decided to incorporate this Mary principle into planning the meal. So, instead of fresh green beans, I bought frozen and made boxed brownies instead of from scratch. I decided to use flour tortillas instead of corn to cut down on rolling time and bought store made (in a peanut free facility) cupcakes for Mother's Day lunch the day following. I gave myself a big pat on the back and slept soundly Friday night.

Then came Saturday. I had a house to clean... AND brownies and cookies to make, enchiladas to roll, green beans to boil and rice (hey, it was out of a box!) to make and dress up with black beans and tomatoes. We had our first out of town guest arrive at one and I had only managed to get chocolate chip cookies and brownies on the table. Thankfully, she was more than willing to help in the kitchen and we were able to get everything prepared just in time to leave for the ceremony.

The sermon was wonderful. Or at least I trust that it was. I wouldn't know. My thoughts were a string of concerns about the meal.... we need a bag of ice, the green beans and enchiladas will need to be reheated, people are going to be hungry and all we have ready are the tortilla chips and dessert.... etc, etc, etc. I became very aware that I had completely missed what Jesus meant by what is 'better'. I wasn't being Mary in the least, it was ALL Martha!

Joanna Weaver writes in her book, Having a Mary Spirit, that she felt the Lord say to her "When you run ahead of Me, you end up doing what I've asked you to do in your own strength rather than Mine. Instead of being cloaked in the sweetness of My Spirit, your efforts are cloaked in your flesh." I often feel this way any time we have people over to the house. If I spend too much time worrying about the cleanliness of our home and what I'm going to put on the table, I find I cannot enjoy our friends and family the way the Lord intended. I also find myself exhausted and less willing to minister to the needs of others.

What originally seemed to be a simple re-shuffling of my thoughts and actions from a Martha-likeness to Mary has now turned into a character makeover. One that has affected many areas of my life and has made me realize, once again, (as I often need to be reminded) that it's not all about me. This flaw in my character affects who I am and how I can be used within the kingdom of God. It affects my willingness to serve the needs of others and my openness to accepting or asking for help from within the body. Whoever knew learning to rely solely on the strength of Christ would be such a difficult undertaking?

Are you a Martha or a Mary? Any Marys out there have any tips for a Martha like me? :)


Seeking Grace on the Narrow Path said...

Let me think about that one. I think I am a little of both. Is that bad? I want to be a Mary all the time, but Martha sometimes gets in the way. Anyway I am trying to be what God would have me to be. Thank you for this thought filled post. I am going to follow your blog. I hope you can stop by Seeking Grace for a visit soon. God bless you my new friend.
Serving HIM,

Andrea said...

I use to be Martha, but through lots of life circumstances...beginning with my third child being a preemie in 1993...my priorities greatly changed. God used his 2X4 from heaven and walloped me over the head to get my attention. Don't worry...he only does this for those like me who are super stubborn and overboard about things....over the years I have become Mary...it was a painful journey. Looking back, I don't know why I didn't surrender, sooner. It is a beautiful place.

Blessings, hugs, and prayers,

PS: I am a new follower. I came over from Beth's blog. I look forward to getting to know you.

Avery's Mommy said...

Hi - Beth sent me over. I love this post. i'm definitely a Martha and didn't realize it until I read the post :)

Nel said...

What a wonderful post. I think the majority of us are Martha's. We give it to the Lord, but tend to take it back and try to take care of it our own way. Can't wait to look your blog over. I am here thru Beth! She's a hoot! A wonderful friend! Welcome to the bloggy world! Come visit if you get a chance.
until next time... nel

Runner Mom said...

i love Joanna Weaver's book! Isnt' she great? And, I do tend to be a Martha when I really DO want to be a Mary! I get where you're coming from!! Sounds like the meal was a success!!
Tips?? As long as you are aware of the Martha habits, you can pray about them. When they do happen,let them go on out the door, and you simply sit at His feet.

Jackie said...

Hey Lou! I came over from Beth's blog and so blessed by this post....I'm following along now!

I can sooo relate to the Martha vs Mary thing!! I think within all of us gals who love the Lord there's a continual Mary/Martha struggle goin' on!! I've learned (and still learning!) over the years to put my "Martha" in front of my "Mary" mirror and put the stuff of life in the right perspective. Sitting at His feet or wiggin' out over the daily stuff of life? With His strength and help I choose sittin' over wiggin' anyday!!!

Sweet Blessings!

Heart2Heart said...

Stopping by to add you to those blogs that I feel have impacted me in the posts you have written.

I found you through Beth's blog and love what you share with all of us. I hope you stop by and visit with us as well and look forward to getting to know you more.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Sonja said...

Hi Lou:

I came over by way of Beth's blog too. You have found a good friend in Beth!

So happy to read your story and see how God is working in your life. Each of us has a story to share of His life changing love.

Keep sharing!



Sassy Granny ... said...


I followed the trail provided by Beth at "Outnumbered ...", and I see a number of my other blogger-buddies did likewise.

Welcome to cyberspace. Beth shared a wee bit about your testimony, and I just have to say "congrats" to your sobriety! I parted company with alcohol by way of A.A. when I was 26 (36 years ago). To God be the glory!

I'll be back ...


Beth E. said...

Hi, I came over from Beth's blog, and I....oh, wait...I AM Beth! ;-)

I'm definitely a Martha. I want to be a Mary, I truly do. Like the others have already stated, it's a struggle for me. BUT, I'm working on it. That's part of my journey closer to God.

I'm so glad you've had visitors today! :-)


Joan Davis said...

Hi! Like the comments above mine, I came over from Beth's blog...and I just found her blog this morning! Great post! I think I can be both a Martha and a Mary...but my desire is to be a Mary. Your post was a great reminder. Thanks!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Yes, and yes. Guilty on all fronts! Mary, Martha, sometimes one or the other or both on any given day. The only sound advice I could give to you along these lines is that I always try and make sure that I give God some quality time every day. I'm not legalistic about when it's done just as long as it's done. He craves intimacy with his children, and he is always faithful to meet us as we are faithful to come to him. In fact, he's waiting!

Hi, Elaine here from Beth's blog. So glad to meet you. I'm so impressed with your willingness to be in the kitchen. I'm a complete disaster as far as that goes and probably spend more time being Mary than Martha. I think, perhaps, Martha gets a raw deal sometimes. I certainly could use a little bit more of her in my life... let's see, where did I put her?!


Kay @ Off the Beaten Path said...

Hi! I came to meet you at Beth's suggestion and I'm so glad I did. You are an inspiration. It's good to make your acquaintance.

I've found that I'm generally a Mary but can turn into a vicious Martha when I'm having people over to my house like you did this past weekend. I want everything to be just right. Funny thing is, when I go to other people's homes, the thing I'm most impressed and pleased with is when the hostess is relaxed and sociable. I like it when she joins in the fun, let's the dishes wait until later, and even serves a simple meal. That way I feel like she was anticipating my company more than she was looking forward to her gourmet meal. Does that make sense?

So now I try to keep things a little more simple and anticipate the people more than the mean or the house. Of course, I say all this as I scramble today to clean my house for my in-laws who are coming tomorrow!

Beth in NC said...

Hi there! I am coming over from Beth's blog. Nice to meet you!

My heart is a Mary, but I feel pressure from the Martha's in my life. :-/

I hope you'll visit me sometime too.


Saleslady371 said...

Dear Lou:
Today I discovered Beth's blog and learned about you. A double blessing for sure. You described very well the tension that exists in all of us women when it comes to the Martha/Mary syndrome! Lord have mercy on us!

You are welcome at Pile of Smiles any time you would like to visit. Have a great day.