“I know! She drives me nuts! She’s just looking for sympathy. She doesn’t need to work that hard or sacrifice that much and then tell us about it.”
“I agree, bless her heart.”
I know I have.
Being a martyr isn’t pretty today. In truth, it never really was. The essence of being a martyr is that others don’t understand you, your passions, or your beliefs. And in today’s (female) circles, the phrase has taken on an additional meaning. To be called a martyr is the equivalent of having someone say behind your back: “bless her heart” because deep down, your actions upset or confuse your gossipers in some way.
I was giddy and a bit start-struck. All of us were. To be taught by Christine was a once in a lifetime opportunity, much less to be sitting in such proximity. Because I’m stealthy and observant, I managed to snag a spot at her feet and being the Bible geek that I am, I said to her in an awkwardly excited fashion, “I feel like Mary at the feet of Jesus!”
“While they were traveling, He [Jesus] entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, ‘Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.’ The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10: 38-42
Mary was so willing and filled with excitement to learn from Jesus that she snuggled up as close as she could to hear his every word. Much like my fan-girl move to sit next to Christine wanting not to miss a thing, Mary positioned herself intentionally – not only in physicality, but in spirit.
We read that we can’t say the same about Martha.
Martha is in the kitchen. Martha is busy doing allthethings. Martha is disengaging with Jesus in an attempt to serve Him.
How often do we find ourselves in this very same place, a Martha instead of a Mary, disengaging in our disciplines that help us connect with God through the Holy Spirit because we are so busy doing other things that we think serve the same purpose?
A wonderfully attentive hostess, Martha’s attention is focused on all that needs to be done to ensure that Jesus and his disciples feel welcomed. Martha isn’t wrong because she cares about these things, she’s ‘wrong’ because she’s chosen these things over her discipleship – her relationship with God himself.
According to Jesus, Mary has made the right choice. She has chosen to put the distractions and tasks of that very moment behind her SO THAT she could focus fully on Jesus in that moment.
It’s understandable, because of their differing priorities, why Martha was so upset with her sister. Martha’s co-hosting a party and her co-host is jibber-jabbing with the guests. Someone has to serve the wine, and the cheese, and set the table and Martha can’t do it all by herself, she needs her sister. Can’t you just imagine Martha’s inner dialogue in this moment? “That Mary–so unreliable and selfish! Her place is in the kitchen, not with the men.”
I think it starts with two things: prayer and grace.
What would it look like to assume the best of yourself and those around you? Is there someone who comes to mind? Is there a task in your life that is causing you distraction? Ask someone to help you process and go back to step one and ask the Lord, too. May we seek to be Marthas with Mary hearts, focused on the right choice.