My friend and I sat across from one another in her bedroom. Earlier that evening, I had gone to visit her church to listen to a guest speaker we both admired. From the time I got there, she was being pulled in a billion different directions. We could barely walk past a pew without someone reaching out for her. I had spoken at her church before so I was familiar with the families there. It didn’t take long before I fell in step with her and jumped in to help man the book table. It’s easy for us to serve. It’s one of the reasons we have grown so close in our friendship.
We are both Marthas.
As we left the church, several approached my friend about teaching a bible study. I watched as she answered question after question and filtered request after request. (Make sure you offer the study on Wednesday, not Sunday. I don’t want to be out late so make sure it’s not past 6 p.m.) I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to share a word of encouragement with her.
When we got to her home, we headed for the sacred conversational spot, her bedroom couch. With the closed-door, we shed the personas we tend to carry around and just go honest.
” I want to be a Mary. I’m tired of being a Martha.” I confessed.
She knew what I meant. I could see the struggle in her own eyes as she processed what I had just said. Her eyes said it all and in one sentence, she summed up both our fears.
“But people don’t like a Mary, they want a Martha.”
At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Bible Gateway)
There has been a lot of things going on in my life lately that has me reflecting. Right before much of it happened, I felt a deep sense to meditate on Psalms 27:4. It kind of became my 2018 motto: Dwell, Gaze and Seek.
I contribute my ability to keep my sanity over the last few months because of this posture. Had I not been dwelling in Abba’s presence, gazing on His face and seeking His will and purpose, I don’t know if I would have responded in the ways I have lately. I was sitting at His feet. For once in a long time, I was a Mary.
We must all push past this internal desire to please. It is the reason, if we are honest, why many of us serve the way we do. We don’t want to disappoint. We don’t want to have to say no. We don’t want people thinking we are lazy or don’t care (that’s my greatest fear). And my favorite, we see a need and think, if I don’t who will?! (This particular mentality is my kryptonite!)
Look, I am not saying there are not times we serve. And I am not saying there is anything wrong with a Martha heart, but often times, we prioritize our serving over our sitting.
And if its one thing I have learned it’s that when God speaks to us, it is in a whisper. If we are frantically moving about, how are we ever going to hear what He is saying to us? How do we know where to serve if we never ask Him and sit still long enough to actually get a response?
You won’t make everyone happy. Many won’t understand what you are doing or why you are not doing. I’m the first to attest you will offend and will most likely be in the gossip mill. But just remember, we all must choose not only what is good, but what is best. The best is always Jesus.
Here’s some practical advice when your inner Martha flares up:
- When there is a request of you, give yourself at least a 48 hour buffer. In this time, pray about it. Your desire to say yes often goes away once you have time to reflect and not just respond. I have struggled badly in this area of my life. I found myself being the first to respond to a dinner invitation, only to wish I had never RSVP. And honestly, it makes it worse on your relationships because you end up standing people up and breaking your promises. It’s better just to pass. If they get mad or make you feel bad, maybe its time to find another group.
- Take a realistic look at your schedule. Can you actually add one more bake sale or bible study to your day? Having a set time for meditation is helpful. Certain times can be blocked off naturally each day. Study time being one of those. We do our best to block off our time at night for our family. Some days are harder than others. Cell phones are turned on vibrate and emails go unchecked. There is nothing we can do or fix at 9 o’clock at night usually. What often seems urgent truly can wait.
- Have an accountability partner. Share areas you struggle in and have them be a buffer for you. My husband helps me realistically look at my schedule and sometimes he will simply step in and say no for me. You need that person in your life who will look at you and say, I think you need to pray on that more. And prepare to get mad at them. Usually when truth is spoken that inner Martha comes out roaring!
May 2018 continue to be a year of sitting, not just serving!