38While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. 39Martha had a sister named Mary. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. 40Martha became angry because she had so much work to do. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”
41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are getting worried and upset about too many things. 42Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (ICB)
The Martha and Mary conundrum…something I’ve struggled with throughout my Christian walk; not because I don’t want to sit at Jesus’ feet, but because I struggle with the balance of what I desire to do and everything else that “should” get done everyday.
When I was in ministry school, it was the students’ duty to help clean up after conferences and events. I was taught to work hard; so I jumped into the expected duties, despite wishing that the worship set wasn’t over, pressing through fatigue and the desire to crawl into bed after a long weekend of conference responsibilities.
But my attitude became sour when I would see some of my peers staying in the sanctuary well after the meetings were over. It felt like duties were being shirked and it was frustrating to me that I felt like I was pulling double duty.
There is no way for me to know what was going on in the others’ hearts; and I learned that it wasn’t my place to judge anothing but my own responses. In that season, I came to realize that my bad attitude was making me a “Martha”, when I wanted to be a “Mary” sitting at Jesus’ feet, not worrying about what needed to get done. When I shifted my focus off of the others and what they were or were not doing and put my focus back on Jesus, I got to complete my duties in the presence of God.
Many years have gone by since then and I find that I am once again struggling with the Martha/Mary paradigm. I want to spend time with Jesus like I was able to in the past, to spend hours in prayer and study, hear His voice clearly. But the demands of life with kids has made that nearly impossible.
There is no such thing as time to myself (I can’t even go to the bathroom without something being destroyed) and there is more work in and around the house than one woman can manage by herself. I have a hard time even thinking let alone praying (other than desperate pleas for “HELP!”) or deep meditation on the Word. Even on Sunday’s, I struggle to worship as I reign my kids in from disrupting everyone else’s chance to meet with God.
How can I live as Mary, while still having responsibilities to tend to? How do I stay on top of the endless to-do list and continue to grow my relationship with God? How do I maintain a right attitude and not succumb to Martha’s viewpoint?
I suppose this is part of the journey, part of the season I’m in; a chance to cling to God even when the struggle is there…
Yesappa, thank You for being there regardless of my struggle, for never leaving me and always meeting me where I am. Thank you for accepting me as I am in this jour eyes and for teaching me as I go. Help me learn how to balance my heart to be like Mary with my tendencies to be more like Martha. Help me keep my attitude in the right place and show me how to carve time throughout my day to focus on you in the midst of the craziness of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.