Growing up in church, I can distinctly remember hearing the ‘Mary and Martha’ story in Sunday School. Our teacher stuck the Biblical cut-outs to the green felt board and pointed out the obvious moral lesson: Mary = good, Martha = bad.
So, it was much to my dismay when I discovered that I had grown up to be not the humble, laudable, and pious Mary I’d always envisioned myself to be, but rather, the cranky, hard-working, ever-burdened Martha I’d always smugly judged.
I remember it clearly – the rest of the family had sat down to watch a movie and I was up scrubbing counters and muttering under my breath about everyone being ungrateful. My husband shouted jovially from the other room, “Come join us! You can finish that later!”
I glanced up from my scouring and stared daggers at the mere suggestion. “I can’t!” I shouted back. “I’m TOO BUSY!”
I used to mentally give myself gold medals for such acts: Working while everyone else was playing, putting in over-time when everyone else was just getting by. No one works harder than I do, I thought. I’m clearly the bigger person.
Until I started noticing all the times that God deliberately calls out the do-ers in the Bible. You know, the ones who’ve been trying harder than everyone else and still get a raw deal? The older brother of the prodigal son. Esau. David’s brothers. And, of course, Poor Martha stuck doing the dishes.
What is it about God that makes Him want to elevate the ones doing nothing and wag a finger at the busy, multi-taskers keeping everyone else in line? It bothers me.
At least it did until I understood the concept of entering His rest. It’s a big subject and not in any way conducive to a 300-word blog entry, but let me just say that I’ve found a lot of joy in letting go of my Martha tendencies and learning how to rest. Not necessarily resting from my obligations and duties, but resting from my insane desire to get them done right now.
My kids will soon be grown and gone and I don’t want to miss all the silly, sticky moments because I was too busy scraping them off the walls. I don’t want to work away fun moments in my marriage. I don’t want to be Martha and miss all the times when Jesus was sitting right there in my living room because I was too busy cleaning the kitchen.
God, help me to be more like Mary this Mother’s Day. Help me to come join the family; to put down the Swiffer and pick up my Bible more often. Forgive my toiling, sweating, Martha heart and make me more like you.