I have a confession to make. The people closest to me, well, they already know how true this is.
I am a total Martha.
All it takes is a quick flip through the New Testament and it’s clear to me, and pretty much everyone around me, that this is the case.
And on the surface, see, being a Martha doesn’t seem that bad. Martha seems like she has it together. She is the one who prepares the food and takes care of everything and gets it all in order. She serves in the sense that she’s doing a lot of the legwork trying to make sure that things are picked up and that everything tastes good. To me, a living embodiment of what Martha might have been like is to compare her to another famous Martha… Martha Stewart. She’s someone who can do it all– she can cook, she can clean, and boy, does she know how to use a hot glue gun.
That appeals to me.
It may have been most clear the time that I was hand painting fondant bubbles for my son’s birthday cake at 3am the night before his party. It might have been clear the time that I did and re-did the stitches on the voodoo dolls that only made a brief appearance on my blog. Perhaps it was clear when I was standing outside next to card tables trying to photograph my fall foods in just the right light, because anything else would have just not been perfect.
Perfection. It’s a funny thing.
As much as I know that my Martha tendencies can be a good thing, because hey, I always seem pretty put together when I bring exactly the right treat to the exchange meeting or have exactly the right table decorations when my guests arrive for a party, it’s also a bad thing.
There are good reasons that Mary was the favored one, the one the Bible seemed to show in a better light.
Martha, like me, missed a lot. She was so busy working through the details, making sure that the icing was just right on the cupcakes (figuratively. That may have been me and not the actual Martha. I’m pretty sure cupcakes weren’t all the rage 2000-ish years ago. I could be wrong, though), that she totally missed out on the opportunity to sit at Jesus’s feet.
I was recently reading an article talking about Mary and Martha. The thing that stood out to me most was this:
“You are worried or distracted by many things. Frazzled. Running around like a chicken with your head cut off. You know what I am talking about. There’s a lot to do and it ALL seems to be a high priority. Jesus told Martha that she was worried and distracted by many things but that Mary had focused on the one necessary thing—sitting at Jesus’ feet. So when you begin to feel frazzled, stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself if you’ve done the one thing that was really necessary today. Did you sit at Jesus’ feet?”
And the thing is, despite the fact that I recognize that being a Martha can sometimes interfere with my Christian journey, my time with Jesus, it’s unlikely to change. Even the real Martha hadn’t changed a bit all three times we saw her in the Gospels. She was still running around trying to get it all done instead of being still, and spending time with God.
Sometimes, like the article said, I’m spending too much time in the kitchen and not enough time lavishing worship at Jesus’ feet.
I know I’m probably not going to completely change that behavior, especially not anytime soon. But I do recognize that I need to take time to worship. I recognize that I need to just spend time listening to what God has to say instead of interjecting my own perfectionist thoughts into the conversation.
God deserves more from me than a perfect meal. And, even though I can serve others, and serve God, through my baking or my party-throwing skills… it’s just not enough on it’s own.
So, I’m trying. I’m trying to put it in God’s hands and take more time to be a Mary instead of a Martha. I won’t change overnight. Most likely, I won’t change over time. I will probably always lean more towards being a Martha. Luckily, Jesus, in saying “Martha, Martha,” loves me as I am, too, with the hope that I’ll learn to spend a little less time on the “important” stuff and make more time for the really important stuff.
Are you a Mary or a Martha? Sound off in the comments below!