Friday, January 18, 2019

Martha or Mary?


Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  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!"
"Martha, 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."

If someone asked you to define who you are, how would you respond?  Would you even have a ready answer?

In her latest book, True YouMichelle DeRusha shares her own "dark night of the soul" quest to uncover the person God created her to be.  A self-described triple type A personality, Michelle confesses to being caught of in a perpetual whirlwind of activity, busyness and the drive to achieve.  There was ever the next rung on the ladder of success to climb.  Her life's mantra, inspired by her father's words as she was growing up, was "make it happen!"

And let's face it.  Our culture has always celebrated the doers, the go-getters.  Those folks who can boast of a trophy room full of awards and accolades.  Given her penchant for attaining one goal after another, it's not surprising that Michelle fell into that trap, defining herself by what she did, not by who she really was in the eyes of God.  She explains it so succinctly in this sentence:  "Part of our need to be busy and productive comes from our desire to be valued and known.  If we are busy, we must be needed, and if we're needed, we must be important."  (Pg. 33)

But something dramatic and life-changing shifted in Michelle the day she decided out of the blue (or was it a God nudge?) to sit for five minutes in silence on a park bench while out for a walk with the family dog.  No checking her phone.  No listening to podcasts.  

Silence, stillness.  For.  Just.  Five.  Minutes.  Turns out, this proved a great deal more difficult than Michelle had imagined.  But as she continued this routine faithfully, she found herself opening up more and more to God's gentle voice, beckoning her to join Him in the "far side of the wilderness," to rest in His presence.

Thus began a long, sometimes wrenching and painful journey toward revealing the woman God intended her to be.  As you read True You, you share intimately in all Michelle's struggles to open her heart and her soul fully to God.  And it is in her honest disclosure of her own vulnerabilities that we begin to see our own.

Michelle's flowing and descriptive prose is in and of itself reason enough to read True You.  But I know when you read the book, the real-life lessons she candidly offers will infuse you with inspiration and encouragement in your spiritual journey.

Because when all is said and done, who do you want to be?  A "Martha?"  Always busy, busy, busy?  Or a "Mary?"  Content to sit at the feet of Jesus, and simply be His beloved child.

I know which one I would choose . . . Thank you, Michelle!

Amen! 

23 comments:

  1. Good post ... difficult choices one has to make. I agree we should set our priorities right. But often in life you have to be Martha. If you have a family for instance, or elderly parents or relatives to look after, or other responsibilities; the Martha in you becomes an imperative. It is not a choice any more. You have to provide for your family and meet your responsibilities.

    Yes, we should also be Mary at times. Give and spend time with Our Lord. Listen and pray to Him. It's a fine balance between our responsibilities to earthly family/friends and to Divine relationships.

    I have often wondered about the Bible passage you quote. I sympathise with Martha. Someone has to make the sandwiches and prepare the tea. If she did not do that, and sat with Mary; Jesus would have gone hungry and thought they both were inhospitable hosts.

    Let's all be honest now. If we were there at that house at the time; what would we have done. Sit and listen to Jesus, or offer Him something to eat and drink? I would have probably done like Martha.

    God bless.

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    1. Sorry Martha ... an after-thought ... I have them often.

      The passage above says, "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." By that I understand she was preparing food for Jesus and whoever other guests He had brought with Him. If she was doing something else, like washing the dishes or doing laundry or painting the garden fence, (I still have to do that), then I understand what Jesus said. It would be a different context altogether.

      God bless.

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    2. Great thoughts here, Victor, and I so appreciate you sharing them. Yes, we all have to be Marthas at many stages in our lives, but we can get so busy and preoccupied that we forget to take time to rest in the Lord. It's a balancing act, to be sure. In Michelle's book, she describes being WAY too frenetic in her lifestyle, one which actually kept her from experience intimacy with God. Not good! I think Jesus must have sensed in Martha her preoccupation with staying busy, doing the right thing, in this case, for her guests, but missing the point of His presence right there in the home. Anyway, that's my take on it. :)
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Sounds like a good book to read, even for a man.

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    1. Bill, it truly is a great read for both guys and gals. Michelle is an excellent writer, and none of us are so secure in our spiritual journeys that we don't need a wake-up call now and then. Kind of like those "ruts" we tend to fall into, as you described in your last post, that God is calling us to leave.
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Maybe in different seasons in our lives we respond to Christ's love in ways that reflect who we are in that season ...

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    1. Very insightful thought, Linda! That is probably true of more of us than we know.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. I know I am a Martha, and I've am also a "Mary wannabe". I do try to sit and listen for God's voice as I meditate on His Word. (in my Secret Garden or on the back porch in the memorial garden, or in my chair in the house), but still I fall short of being the true spiritual woman that I want to be. God is still working on me. Glad He doesn't quit. This was good,

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As Michelle would assure you, Pamela, we are all works in progress, and God will never quit on us. Sometimes, being a Martha is a necessity because of the demands all around us. But getting caught up in busyness just for the sake of it can be so damaging to our relationship with God and others. And my gut tells me that you have a lot more Mary in you than you realize.
      Love and blessings!

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  5. What a crying shame (that) our society celebrates the Martha's of this world. I know I'm so blessed to have removed myself from that sort of toxic environment last March. Like blog friend Pam always says, "Life is sweeter in the slow lane."

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    1. Oh, yes it is, Mevely, MUCH sweeter! It's great being retired and able to slow things down. I know I'm enjoying life a good deal more than when I was on the Martha track.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Great post Martha! Always loved that story. A great reminder to focus on the important things. B Blessed

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the book review here, Mike! As I said to Bill in the comments above, guys and gals can read and learn so much from Michelle's words. And yes, let's focus on the truly important things!
      Love and blessings!

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  7. I believe we need to be both Martha and Mary throughout the stages of our lives and as I've gotten older the Mary in me has pushed forward. What is important changes as we mature and grow in our faith.

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    1. I'm with you, Terri. There needs to be a healthy balance between the Martha and Mary in us. In Michelle's case, that balance was sorely in need of being reestablished. Her journey is such a heartfelt and compelling one.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. I agree with Terri above. There are times I believe the qualities in both women are equally important, and the precious thing is, it is possible for us to remain focused on Jesus the whole time we are doing the things we have to do from day to day. Every Martha-like deed of housework can be transformed into a Mary-like act of worship, if we keep our eyes and thoughts focused on Him continually. I have learned to live life at Jesus' feet, regardless what I am doing, and I have also learned to keep my environment as quiet and serene as possible so I can continually hear His voice. It is the only way I can remain sane in this crazy, tumultuous, noisy world. :) God bless you, sweet friend.

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    1. I love the perspective you have shared here, Cheryl! Martha-like deeds transformed into Mary-like worship - that's a perfect balance that we should strive to achieve. I've often used those mundane routines to pray for others and give thanks to God. It works!
      Love and blessings!

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  9. Such a good book. I think this will be one book I will reread several times too.

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    1. Amen, Jean, it is definitely worthy of a reread.
      Love and blessings!

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  10. So true. We do over emphasize busyness in our culture. One of the reasons I value my time at my cabin every other weekend is that I allow myself to just be. No phone or internet. I sit by the creek and just watch the light and shadows as time passes. Having spent much of my life in the fast lane, it is a relief to step out of the race and just reflect and allow. What emerges then is natural and effortless, according to inner guidance rather than external shoulds.

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    1. I love how you purposefully retreat to your cabin, Galen, to be renewed and refreshed in simply being, not doing. The fast lane is, of course, at times necessary, but we must learn it isn't the be all and end all of our existence. I think you and I have both managed to find that balance.
      Love and blessings!

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  11. Martha, Your post is amazing, as always! Michelle's latest book sounds amazing! It's interesting to see how the world tries to place people in boxes, rather than letting people have the "freedom" to be the best person they can be. Labels--the ones others give us, as well as those we give ourselves are damaging in many ways.

    I try to remind myself (frequently!) that we are human beings NOT doings.

    What God says about us is far more important than what the world or our inner voice says.

    How refreshing it is to experience a person who can look beyond the outer packaging and see the true inner person--the part that makes us who we are.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech comes to mind. He longed for the day when people would be judged for the content of their character, rather than what they looked like on the outside.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. One of my favorite speeches of all time, Kim! Indeed, we should be judged by the content of our character, and nothing else. And I love what you said here: ". . . we are human beings NOT doings." Perfect! May we all take time to sit at the feet of Jesus every day as the most important thing we do.
      Love and blessings!

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