I’m the Martha

Several weeks ago, we heard the story of Martha and Mary, where Martha invites Jesus to dine in her home and while she’s busy cooking and cleaning, her sister, Mary, sits and listens to Jesus; He tells Martha that Mary is doing the better thing. (Luke 10:38-42).

I’m the Martha.

I’ve known this since the first time I heard the story. It’s so easy for me to side with her – I mean, somebody has to do all this stuff! Must be nice to be Mary, just sittin’ there, listening. And in Pastor Scott’s sermon, my “team Martha” passion grew as he talked about how extraordinary it was for anyone in the New Testament, let alone a woman, to actually see Jesus for who He truly is, and who had the means (home, food and an extra bed) to take care of Him. So, basically, Martha is amazing all around.

But as we hear, even though she’s working hard to make Jesus’ stay comfortable and perfect, her sister is at rest, living in the “now,” soaking it all in. And Jesus directly calls her out: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

And even though I don’t really like hearing that Martha and I aren’t usually choosing the best option, all the recent signs I’ve encountered lately in my own life, including this Bible passage, point to rest and being present as the better thing:

  1. Jesus straight up says it. He says being worried and distracted isn’t going to ultimately get you anything that matters; being present will give you a gift that will stay with you forever. That sign alone should be enough for me, but, forgive me, I need more.
  2. Age-old parenting advice. “Kids grow up so fast. Enjoy every
    minute!” is advice I hear so often as a parent of small children that it has to have some truth to it. These are the good old days. Don’t spend so much time trying to keep the house clean; just play with them, take it all in and enjoy!
  3. Emphasis on mindfulness. If you’re trying to get healthy like I am, you can’t get far without hearing about the importance of meditation, rest and being present for a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. I like to think that Jesus was a trendsetter in this story – stress is “out,” mindfulness is “in!”

All signs for me lately are pointing toward this truth Jesus spoke so long ago. I would argue that we need a little of both Martha and Mary in us – the food does need to be prepared and, once in awhile, someone needs to pick up the house. But, it’s also important to set aside all the “to do’s” and just enjoy the moment, take in the beauty, and make real connections. While both sides are necessary, to get the most out of what really matters in life, we need to be the Mary.

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