"Manic Martha"

Whenever I hear the names “Martha and Mary,” I have vivid pictures in my head. Growing up as one of four girls, I can relate to the complaining Martha, who wanted her sister to get up and help her.

These two women held opposing jobs when Jesus came to visit. Martha was the overworked hostess; Mary was the attentive listener at Jesus’ feet. And Mary had had chosen the ‘better part.’

As a young girl, I couldn’t understand why Jesus would tell Martha that she was a Nervous Nellie, and that Mary’s choice was perfect. In my family, you got up and pitched in. Jesus and his disciples arrived at the house tired and hungry. Martha could see their needs, so she got moving. What’s wrong with that? To me, it sure looked like Mary was avoiding work.

But now I know there is more going on here than meets the eye. I read a wonderful reflection on this passage. One thing that caught my eye was the label the author used to describe our hardworking sister. “Manic Martha.”

The author thought that Martha’s endless loop of serving meant that she was avoiding something. Hmmm. What an interesting idea. Come to think of it,  I can be quite the Manic Martha myself.  When I have to do something I don’t want to do, suddenly my chore list is fascinating reading.

For example, I have a hard time settling down to write.  When it’s time to sit and put some words on paper, I am almost always willing to be distracted. I’ll pay bills, return emails, weed the backyard, take my vitamins, make that doctors appointment, do a load of laundry, answer the phone, make a Starbucks run and look at that! No time left to write. All that motion, invented to avoid the one thing I needed to get accomplished.

Running in my own endless loop, I am taking a pass on being quiet Mary, and choosing instead to become a full-blown Martha.

Jesus never told Martha her work wasn’t important. He told her she was anxious. It was the worry that led her to become swamped in things that could wait. She lost sight of the fact that her place of peace was at Jesus’ feet, just like her sister Mary.

All those little jobs that I got tangled up in were the result of a type of worry too.  It’s hard to write, so instead, I chose the endless chores. I allowed myself to be distracted from the work I needed to do. 

So Lord, when it's time to do the things that I'd rather skip, please send me the Spirit of Mary. Help me not to worry. Calm my mind so I won't give in to distraction. I have a task to complete, and the laundry can wait.

Linking today with Monday Musings and Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday

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