Were you designed like Martha or like Mary?
Martha was the one that saw what needed to be done and did it. Mary was the one who lived in the moment and was not bothered by anything beyond that second. Martha planned. Mary sat. Martha loved Jesus through service. Mary loved Jesus through focused attention.
Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m a Martha. Sitting is not in my vocabulary Focus is not in my vocabulary. I have always felt like Martha received a bad rap. So maybe I am more inclined to defend her. To me, both Martha and Mary worshiped Jesus. Both loved Jesus equally. Worship can happen while you are moving. Undoubtedly my best times of worship have been alone on a run – while I was moving. But I will admit that I have often found a rock to sit on and let it soak in as the words flood into my mind.
I have spent years trying to make my Martha personality into a Mary. Jesus said what Mary had to offer was better. I wanted to know what it was like to be a Mary. I want to offer what is best. To wake up early to pray. To sit through a prayer set in complete worship. To immediately think that all you had to do that day was worship Jesus.
And yet there were those people that could do just that. God gifts some with the ability to be a Mary and focus in on the one thing, and God gifts some with the ability like Martha to see the needs of others, to see how to reach out. Yet in teaching, or worshiping I always wondered what it would be like to be Mary. What that would feel like. And so I spent years of my life sitting like Mary did, yet feeling like Martha would have felt just sitting.
I had this interesting time of broadening my understanding recently as I was not even thinking about Martha or Mary. I was focusing on a list of things that tend to hold us back – pride, anger, jealousy, bitterness, passivity, fear, rebellion, anxiety, depression and I was thinking about how to eliminate these from my thought patterns. And my immediate thought was to pray against each one that it would be gone. To expose it and erase it. A quick fix. Simple. Just like Martha would have done it.
But as I pondered more and let my mind float from thought to thought, I began to think deeper. I saw the importance of focusing on each one and eliminating all of the factors that go into that thought pattern. Like eliminating the roots and the branches. Just like I am sure Mary would have done. To not worry about other hang-ups in your life. But to focus on eliminating just one. And as I thought further, I realized that neither way is the solution. Both are needed. I need the introspective thoughts of Mary to be able to reveal the roots and patterns. I need to be patient and wait just like she would wait. I need to sit with Jesus and think about just that one thing and not everything else that leads from it. And yet I need the drive of Martha to see what needs to be done and take action. I need to recognize it is there and press on to eliminate it. Without one, the other would not completely work.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes as a teenager. Life is like riding a two wheeled bike. Keep pedaling or you will fall off. I am sure that Martha and Mary did not make a good bike riding team. Martha was always pedaling ahead and keeping her bike going, calling back to Mary to catch up. And Mary stopped to pick each wildflower and admire each sunset. Mary taught Martha how to see beauty in each situation. And Martha ensured that Mary had the opportunity to see more than just one field of flowers.
Press on. Pick the flowers. Admire the beauty. And then look for the next one.