Almost a Mary, Sometimes a Martha

The Lord said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

I never really related to Christian woman who bemoan their “Martha-ness” and talk about yearning to be more like Mary. Sometimes, I felt like I was a bit of a slacker; after all, when I’m hosting a dinner party, I wait to do the dishes until everyone leaves. I prefer to sit and talk with my guests. The popular refrain is, “I’m so busy!”, and sometimes, it sounds like a humble brag. After all, our culture values productivity, often to the detriment of more important priorities.

So, am I a Mary? In some ways, yes. I do think that if Jesus were at my house, I’d be at his feet, not wanting to miss a thing. That’s how I am with anyone who’s visiting, so of course I’d be like that with the Savior. I’d have some major FOMO if I couldn’t hear every word he was saying. And I think that makes for a good hostess—the tidying up can wait, but your guests will only be there for so long.

Before I rest on my laurels, though, I need to decide what makes a Mary and a Martha in my own context, in my own life. Yes, I do prioritize conversation over task completion when other people are around. But, do I prioritize conversation with God? Am I always joyfully present to the people I love? Too often, the answers to those questions is, “No.”

It takes faith to sit with Jesus now, when his voice isn’t as clear as it was when he walked the earth. It takes patience to listen for it—and patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. Sometimes, God makes his voice unmistakeable, shouting from the rooftops to get me to hear. But he wants me to listen, too. He wants me to seek him out, to leave the kitchen and come sit at his feet.

“The Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Sure, sometimes God speaks in a burning bush. But often, as my husband reminded me the other day, he’s not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Often, he speaks in light, silent sounds. He stirs quietly in our hearts. Are we like Martha, banging around with the pots and the pans too loudly to hear? Or, are we like Mary, seeking him out in silence to listen to what he has to tell us?

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