The struggle between my Mary and my Martha
. . . the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
The story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha is an iconic one for me.
As a child hearing this story, I liked how straightforward it was. Its simplicity of characters made it incredibly easy to understand and easy to relate to.
The message in itself was simple: Be like Mary. Choose what is better.
It is only now in my adult life that I realize that actually, it’s not that simple. Being like Mary and not being like Martha is actually quite difficult.
In my reflection, I see myself in Martha.
Apart from actual cleaning and tidying (my mom would agree that I’m bad at keeping things tidy), pre-Conversion I had always seen myself unworthy of love, both from other people and especially from God. I think that my failed track record of previous relationships was a good indication of that.
I had spent my entire life “cleaning” – working out and trying to lose weight, perfecting a skin care regimen that healed my acne, learning how to actually wear makeup and finding better clothes, trying to be a better person – but I could never seem to attract the people I wanted.
This led me to the realization – and I use that term in the lightest way possible – that I had to do other ways as a mean to earn the affection of others. Extra curricular activities and saying yes to everything was my way of keeping busy and showing other people who I could do it. I could be the best version of myself, even without the affection of others.
In all my running around, however, I failed to find the only and the easiest way to be the best version of myself.
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!” – Luke 10:40
Amidst the string of failed relationships, stress from school and work, anxiety and depression and a worsened self-view, I called out to God.
“Lord, if you love me, then why am I left to do everything to do on my own?”
“Why does my future, despite all of the things I have done, still feel so uncertain?”
“Why am I depressed all the time?”
“Why does no one love me?”
It wasn’t until I put Christ at the center of my life that all my questions were answered. Instead of running around, doing all the things, and trying to win people’s approval, in the end there was only one person that mattered most, and that was God Himself.
The “preparations” of our daily life are the things that we busy ourselves with – whether it be school or work, friendships and relationships, volunteer and self-betterment – that could come before God. And truthfully, I had put a number of these things before Him in my life.
The lesson of the story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha is not to throw out everything you’ve ever done and just sit and wait. God wants us to use our talents to bring Him the glory, and He wants us to use the time that He has given to use wisely. Like the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), He has given us extraordinary talents and missions that only we can carry out. We must find a way to take what He has given us and multiply it to show the world the glory of His kingdom.
But at the same time, we can’t let vanity and a lack of humility be our intention. We do need to take the time to be like Mary and just listen. When we do, we can hear the word of God and allow Him to speak truth in our life – the truth that He wants us to live out.
In striking a balance between doing and listening, we find peace. We find our strength in God and our glory from the only person that matters.
In God, we are surrounded by perfect love. We don’t need to feel insecure, or like our preparations will never be enough. Because in God, we are enough. We are His.
Lead image credit: Chery Lu