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Monday, June 20, 2011

Mary or Martha?

The story of Mary and Martha (two of Jesus’ best friends) has my attention.   I like to imagine Mary and Martha living in the 21st Century.

Martha is a trailblazer.  (Heck, she owned property in the ancient world -- a rare status for women!)  She's also a constant worrier and worker bee who is rushing around to get everything done and ordering everyone around.  She’s outraged that everyone around her is plain lazy (or incompetent) and she’s always saying, “Do I have to do everything myself?”

She brings home the bacon and fries it up in a pan.  She's taking care of her family -- both emotionally and financially -- and she wonders when someone is going to take care of her instead!  She’s keeping score of who’s doing what (and who’s not doing what), and she’s always nagging at someone. 

Sound like anyone you know?  I get stressed out just watching her.  Maybe because she hits too close to home.

Unlike Martha, Mary is calm and laid back, sitting at Jesus’ feet.  How does Mary get anything done?  And why does she let Martha do all the work?   

I don’t think Mary is lazy -- she just has her priorities ordered.  She works smarter, not harder.  And when the guest of honor arrives in her home, she knows better than to run around and try to impress him.  Instead, she just sits and listens.

Mary knows how to delegate. She orders the schedule. The schedule doesn’t order her. When her meeting cancels unexpectedly, she stops and gets a pedicure. And when her kids don’t have school in the morning, she lets them stay up late and eat popcorn.

She’s known to change plans.

So many of us want to live like Mary but we feel trapped in Martha’s world. 

I am a type B person trapped in a type A life.  I have a type A job, wear type A clothes, and live in a type A neighborhood.  My family’s daily routine has just about no spontaneity let alone flexibility.  Everything we do revolves around the “schedule” -- homework, play dates, after school activities, and scheduled appointments. If it’s not on the schedule, you might as well forget it!

Like Mary, I want to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. 

But is it possible to live like Mary in a modern-day world? 

Martha probably asked the same question.


Shanda said...

I totally get you. Have you read "Having a Mary heart in Martha World?" Worth reading. I also struggle with sitting at his feet in all my business.

mrsgleffter said...

Our pastor challenged us to be dilligent in studied God's word and meditating on Sunday and the first thing that went through my mind was "How do I get that done as well as everything else I have to do?"

Thanks for these thoughts. I'm trying to find Mary moments in my Martha days! Baby steps....

Jenny Sulpizio said...

I remember when I was first introduced to this story and loved hearing the portion about Mary and how she doted on Jesus, took time with Him, sat at His feet, the whole sha-bang. It was at that point that we were asked to identify with one of the characters and of course-I WAS MARTHA. I wanted to be a Mary, darnit! Alas, I still am Martha, even though I still want to be Mary. Oy!

I need to get better at this because I fear that I will always be a Martha. Even after I pass, and am standing with Jesus, I have a feeling that I'll want to clean His robes or be on the "fix-up heaven" minor improvement committee because I just can't sit idle...even though I need to. I need to spend more time with Jesus and just listen.

Great post, Susan!

David Rupert said...

I'm not very good at sitting! There is much more 'glory' in doing. But that's not how He sees it.

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

I wish I knew the answer to that one, Susan. I was going to suggest the book Shanda suggested.

I have my Mary moments and my Martha ones...I enjoy my Mary ones more, so I'm making them happen more.

Graceful said...

Oh big fat sigh. I am so Martha. My husband has deemed me Triple Type A. Not a good sign. I think I need to read the book Shanda recommended -- I've seen it at Barnes and Noble.

Thanks for linking up Susan -- always love to see your face there!

Heidiopia said...

I'm a little of both, i think... probably more Martha than Mary. I do think it's possible to embrace the spirit of Mary in today's world, but you have to be pretty good at tuning out a lot of noise. My mom just gave me the book Shanda mentioned... on my list to read!
Hope you're well, Susan! xoxo Heidi said...

This is a good one. I always appreciated poor Martha's situation. I mean, there are things to get done! Mary just seemed like she didn't care about what was going on in the house. It does seem lazy. I can't get past that. I think the message is that these are two extremes, and we can't fall into either. There is a time for everything. We must have order, and get things accomplished. And we must stop and listen at times, and just be.

BigD said...

I've been reading "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World."
It's taking me forever, because it's a slow, painful, agonizing process. Yeah, I'm Martha-squared. And it pains me that she always gets the bad rap in the story.