Monday, March 9, 2009

Mary and Martha

We had an interesting experience at our house church gathering last week. The women and men had split up to have some gender-specific discussion time. The men were outside with the older kids, and the women were in the living room with the babies. (Two two-year-olds, two one-year-olds, and a three-month-old.)

Now, to fully understand what was going on here, you must know a few stats about these women. Two of us are mothers of three young children and two of us are mothers of two young children, expecting the third. All of us have some kind of job outside of being wives, mothers, and household CEO's. And all of us are heavily involved with Christ Journey -- chidren's ministry, worship leading, singing with the worship band, wives of pastors, etc...

The topic that we were supposed to be discussing was our connection to the Biblical Story. What story do we connect with, which story do we most find ourselves in, why, etc... Surely these Godly women would have something wonderful to say. But we didn't. None of us. All we could say was that we are so busy with the demands of our daily lives. All of us seemed to agree that we find it very difficult to squeeze thoughts about our connection to story in with homework, poop schedules, and grocery lists. Then we prayed that God would help us to see Him this week in our lives. All of this while we were fishing foreign objects out of children's mouths, cleaning up spills, pacifying fussy babies, I'm sure you get the idea!

Granted, just because nothing was said doesn't necessarily mean that there was nothing to be said. It's possible that someone knew exactly where they fit into the biblical story, but just didn't feel comfortable to share, or even just didn't hear/understand the question or have the energy/ability to answer at the moment.

The whole experience stuck with me though, all the same.

Well, I’ve been thinking about my story, and I was still drawing a blank until just a couple of days ago. Then it struck me like a big ol’ stick. The more I think about it, the more I just can’t shake it.

I was looking over the Bible school lesson for the preschoolers the other day. They were going to be learning about Mary and Martha. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story, but humor me and read it again just one more time. (This is a paraphrased version, from The Beginners Bible.)

“Once there were two sisters. One was named Mary. One was named Martha. Jesus was their good friend. He came to see them whenever he was in town. One time while Jesus was at their house, he had a long talk with Mary. Mary sat by Jesus. She listened and listened. Jesus had so many wonderful things to say. Martha was thinking about other things. She knew there was a lot of work to do. She wanted to get their dinner ready. She wanted to clean the house. She wanted to make a nice bed for Jesus. And while Martha worked, worked, worked, Mary sat and listened.

Finally Martha got upset. ‘Jesus,’ she said, ’Mary is not helping. I am doing all this work by myself. Tell her to come and help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ Jesus said. ‘You are upset about so many things. Mary is doing something very important. She is listening to me. She chose to do the best thing.’”

I feel a little trite even sharing this. This story has been studied and analyzed up one side and down another. It feels so cliché. We’re supposed to figure out who we are – Mary or Martha.

What I have felt this week though, is that at this time in my life, this is my story. I’m not just Mary and I’m not just Martha. I am both. And right now, the demands of home and kids and husband and errands and ministry -- and life – are bringing my Martha out full force. But the truth is, I have a Mary somewhere deep inside. And I miss her. I’m thinking God must (for some crazy reason!) miss her, too.

So my challenge for myself this week is to let my Mary take over a few times. It’s amazing how much different it feels, how much more grounded I have felt the past few days since I have had a specific story to live in. We’ll see what happens when I’m even more intentional about it…


Heidi said...

That has been my prayer since your email today. I am praying for my Mary to come out a little more often than my Martha. I am up early (I just wish not this early) spend some time working out and listening to God. You are in my prayers this week along with the other girls in our housechurch. I can't wait to hear what He is going to do this week in everyone's lives!

Bret Wells said...

This is really good Rachel - perhaps God will use your blog to pull Mary out of hiding...maybe he already is?

I'm glad that you quoted from The Beginner's Bible - very appropriate. May I suggest you do that regularly? Most of us turn to The Message for this type of reading - rarely do we think of these stories from the perspective of what will speak to children. Maybe we could all stand to be spoken to as children occasionally!

Yours is an important voice for us to hear - thank you!