The other day we were having a conversation around here about our “Martha” moms.
We had just spent the weekend with my folks and other family members celebrating a cousin’s wedding. [side note: a fun time, lots of catching up on family and friends]. One of the ground rules we have laid down when visiting the folks is we aren’t there as “guests,” expecting to be waited on, but we’re there to help out whenever and however is needed. This is a really hard rule for my mom to accept. She is definitely a Martha – continually busy with details, being sure everyone’s needs are met, each one is comfortable, and all are enjoying themselves. All the while, she has missed out on much of the fellowship.
As my husband and I were revisiting various moments of the weekend, we both were reminded how our moms were continually busying themselves, overseeing everyone’s needs, making sure that all was running exactly to their perceptions of what needed to be taken care of. During this conversation, I found myself wanting to make a critical statement about how it bothers me that Mom has a hard time of “letting go,” sitting back and enjoying the time together.
And then I had one of those “reality-check” moments as I caught my own reflection in the shine I was earnestly seeking as I feverishly polished my countertops.
What was that Voice saying to me . . . “And what about you, my daughter?”
Ok. I admit it. I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I’ve always worked to ensure that everything is in its place. Always wanting to prove myself, to be the absolute best.
That Voice took me immediately back to a story I know so very well. A story I’ve heard told over and over many times in this life of mine. Mary and Martha.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Every time I’ve heard this so familiar story told and retold, taught about, preached on – my heart has always leaned towards, “Oh I can see me being Mary.” After all, imagine having such an honored guest in your home. Who wouldn’t want to just drop everything, put it all aside, and sit at the feet to hear such great Truth?
But the glimpse I caught in the reflection of the bright, shiny granite countertops . . . in that mirror, I see myself being more like Martha than I care to be. So what is the difference between these two girls? Both loved Jesus for sure.
Mary put everything on hold. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. – just to spend some precious moments with Jesus.
Martha was more concerned with her “to-do” list – you know the one that never seems to end.
Martha was complaining and even feeling resentful about this situation.
Martha was feeling left-out and unappreciated by those around her.
Martha was more anxious about being “perfect” for Jesus than spending time and enjoying with Him.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of being responsible, taking care of the household needs and the needs of those in our home – be them guests or family. In fact, Jesus didn’t tell Martha to just “walk away from all her duties,” but He was simply getting to her to recognize the need . . . her need . . . her priorities were not in the right place.
That’s what I heard . . . in all things my relationship with Him should come first. Before my marriage, my family, my job, my ambitions, my dreams. And yes, just like Martha – even my household chores.
Taking a few moments today to breathe in and breathe out – listening to His Voice.
The dishes can wait.