Wednesday, September 19, 2012

on being a "martha"

...and no, I'm not referring to the Stewart variety ;)

A story that's been on my heart lately is the one of Mary & Martha. It's short, so I'll go ahead and include it here. 

(( Luke 10:38-42 from the ESV))


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.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

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I have to admit that even though I've heard & read this passage many times...when reading this story for the first time with a "fresh" perspective, I was kind of frustrated at Jesus for not telling Mary to get off of her lazy-you-know-what and help her sister. Mostly, however, I was super convicted of my lack of understanding of Mary's actions. 

Here's a little bit of back-story on how this story came to be on my heat and mind. On Tuesdays, we host Missional Community at our place. You might know this better as "small group, home group" and other titles of the like. You can read more about our Missional Communities here.  Anywho, on this particular Tuesday, I wasn't feeling well, I was exhausted, spread too thin between work, keeping up with the house, trying to keep up with friends and family, maintaining a healthy marriage, planning & making meals, etc. Ya know...life. To put it quite frankly, I was cranky. I was ((unadmittedly at the time)) mad about lugging the vacuum upstairs. I was frustrated with how many dishes I had let pile up around the sink that I'd have to clean. I was equally grumpy that the dishwasher hadn't been run, so it was full of dirty dishes as well. I was bitter that no one had bothered to RSVP or sign up for things to bring, so I was going to either a. not have enough food or b. have to go back to the store to get the items no one had yet to volunteer to bring. Bottom line, I had made Missional Community that night about me. What I had to do to prepare for it, cook for it, clean for it, etc. 

Chase came home from a day of meetings, sermon prep, and studying to a wife with a storm cloud over her head. 
"Do you need any help?" 
"No."
 "Are you sure?" 
"Yes." 
"Okay, I'm going to go into the study and read for a bit." 
"Fine. Sigh."

What a gem of a wife I was in that moment, huh? Wanting help, but not taking it. Being too prideful to ask & accept it. Getting mad that he didn't just go ahead and take the trash out without me asking. Aren't husbands supposed to read minds? 

I have a feeling this is what would have happened with sassy-at-the-moment Martha, had Mary even volunteered to help. Sarcastically saying, "Oh noooo, Mary. You just sit on your rear and listen to the Nice Man tell stories. I'll clean and sweep and cook and go to the well to get water for these hundreds of random people who are standing around & in our house. I've got this." All the while, fuming, and making this situation all about her, rather than just taking a second to sit with Jesus. 

Anywho, back to my story. Chase sat me down after everyone left and gently called me out on how I was acting. Using examples of my grumpy cleaning rituals, taking dishes and cleaning them while people are chatting, catching up on each others' weeks, and sharing life with one another. "Humbly serving" on the outside. "Bitterly hosting" on the inside. He quite lovingly said, "I want you to think about how you *might* be living more like a Martha than a Mary."

Cuss. 

He was right.

But this isn't the first time this Martha syndrome had taken over my heart. When The Well was just getting started, we hosted church at our home. Every Sunday morning, I was stressed about cleaning and more concerned with kids breaking my vintage vases rather than just loving them. Volcano candles had to be lit or else our home smelled like whatever incense our neighbor had lit. I was frustrated to have to clean up my studio so the kids had somewhere to go for "children's church" when I had orders lined up and organized and dresses half sewn. I felt like my home was taken over & disrespected when babies were put in pack-n-plays in our bedroom, OUR BEDROOM!, without my being asked.  When the communion wine got spilled & stained our carpet, I was PISSED. And no way, I didn't want to make coffee for anyone or let people use my expensive Almond Joy creamer or Torani Syrups. What, you think we're made of money or something? Drink coffee before you come. 

I am both humored by and disgusted that this was FOR REAL my heart. Thank the LORD for grace and second & third fourth chances.

((thickkkkkkkk sarcasm)) 
What a LOVELY pastor's wife you're becoming Kim! This is really your knack, isn't it? Gosh, hospitality and the gospel sure shine in your home. I can't wait to come over again next week!

Church became more about my frustrations than it was about community and the gospel. And our team called us out on it. 

Cuss. 

You're all right.

In BOTH situations, in my heart, I believed was serving. Bitterly, yes. But I was serving for crying out loud. The Bible has much to say about the appreciation of a servant's heart ((Mark 9:35, Colossians 3:23-24, Matthew 24:45-46)), so why wasn't my servant-hood being appreciated at ALL?
Um, because I was making it about me. 
I had this disgusting anxiety of making my home look perfect and put-together. The meal for Missional Community had to be complete and smelling aromatic RIGHT at 6:30 and if the bathroom wasn't clean by 6? Cue panic and grumpy pants Kim. 

Jon Bloom says it this way:
This kind of anxiety is very subtle. It has a selfish root, but its fruit looks deceptively like unselfishness. It's the desire for approval dressed up to look like the desire to serve. It's my caring what you think of me dressed up to look like my caring for you. It can be so subtle that we don't see it clearly. It looks so much like the right thing that we believe it is the right thing.

I'm still "chewing on" and thinking about what Jesus means by "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." in verse 42. All I know is that Martha's actions were disrespectful and petty enough for Jesus to see right through her & lovingly rebuke her when she childishly said "Jesussssss! Tell my sister to help meeeee." ((in my head that's how she said it, all whiny and such)). Mary chose the right thing by sitting with Him at His feet and listening intently. When was the last time I did that on a Tuesday when I was supposed to be cooking for 12 and cleaning? 

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Are you guilty of being a Martha? Join the club, but let's not meet weekly about it & stay in the club. ;) Let's, instead, pray daily for a heart that truly wants to be a joyful servant, not for selfish motives, but for the sake of the GOSPEL. To make people feel loved and welcomed, as Jesus did. 

love.


44 comments:

  1. I'm such a Martha. You're so not alone. Have you read "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver? I can't say I finished it (I got too busy... Martha again), but it is good! And find hope in the fact that Martha totally changed her ways. I actually have an image of her right above my kitchen sink to remind me!

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    1. i haven't but i will definitely look into it! what a good reminder to have above your sink!

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  2. thank you. thank you for hitting me on the head and finally allowing that story to make sense.

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    1. praise God for allowing this story to teach us a lesson at the same time :)

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  3. THANK YOU for posting this! I needed to read this. Thank you also for your honesty. :)

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    1. honesty is what i've always got plenty of around here ;)

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    2. I'm a new follower so I haven't read much. I am loving your blog! You are very inspiring. :)

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  4. Love love love this post! Thanks so much for posting! Love the ESV translation! Have you ever used the Journaling Bible? It's awesome!

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  5. Lol I TOTALLY relate when hubby asks if he can help and I'm too grumpy to say so. Shouldn't he read my mind? Ugh.. Great thoughts and reminders of not being a Martha. Thanks.

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  6. I'm new to your blog and let me just say, yours is the kind of blog I want and need to be reading. I LOVE your honesty. I have totally been that person, all angry in my head while "serving" others, even down to the "made of money" line. It actually shocked me a little how much your description fit me. Whoa, you mean there ARE other Christians who feel like this sometimes?! Of course there are, but it is easy to single ourselves out (in a negative or positive way), which can actually be pride. I love when I come across people who are open and honest about their struggles. We are all still human, but sometimes we have this facade like we have it all together. No way. I said to a friend recently that I wish we could have a church service where everything just goes around and admits what they still struggle with--not to judge, or condemn, or build egos, but because the second we forget that we're all in this together is the second the church loses power. So, thank you for this. May you be blessed in all you do!

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    1. praying that your church community would become more real, saturated with truth & grace, and honest about sin so that you can grow together, rooted in the Gospel!

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  7. "Drink coffee before you come." Hilarious. Also? I feel you on this. Thanks for being vulnerable.

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    1. hahaha i'm glad you thought that was as funny as i did. if God hadn't been working in my heart, it would still be ugly and an unredeemed statement. praise Him for grace!

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  8. I really loved this post. It's so true! It's also so hard to hear, but we all desperately need to see when we are wrong.

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    1. definitely hard to hear, SK. I'm still trying to let it marinate. It's a tough thing to master in this busy world.

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  9. i am martha all the way. ugh. thankfully I have a husband who also calls me out on it.

    have you read emily freeman's grace for the good girl? it's a good one :)

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    1. the nester's sister-- emily freeman. http://www.chattingatthesky.com/the-books/ soo good.

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  10. Thanks for your honest words!The Lord was so kind to include this moment in His written word! I'm always struck by that little word "chosen." The choice is always up to us. Our attitude, our actions. The choice is ours. I try to remember this when I'm cleaning the potty! I can choose to despise my sons lack of aim ') OR I can choose to be thankful for indoor plumbing!

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    1. i'll definitely remember that next time i'm scrubbing the toilet!

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  11. Thank you for being transparent & sharing your heart! We all need to hear this message :) you are truly a blessing!

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  12. Thank you so so much for your honesty! It's refreshing. I am such a Martha, it can be ridiculous. I'm playing on amazon right now to order the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" that {be merry} kate recommended above.

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    1. i think i'll be ordering that next!

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  13. Girl, I'm there. What's even more disgusting is that, lately, the times that I've been able to open my home and show Jesus' love have been mostly with non-believers. What an opportunity, right? Except I'm a grumpy-pants because my house isn't *just so* and then, THEN! I file it under "perfectionist" when it's really just a case of messed up priorities. My favorite part of that verse that I always try to call to mind is when Jesus says that "few things are needed - indeed, only one." Amen to that. If only I'd remember that one thing instead of freaking out about the pointless details.

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    1. mmm. few things are needed. if only we could believe that every second of the day. praying for everyone today who has voiced their desire to be less like Martha and more like Mary. what a community we have here of women who TRULY desire to sit at the feet of our Father, whether or not we had to learn the hard way ;)

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  14. CUSS. As you say. This is a whack in the face to me for sure. You are so right! SO SO SO RIGHT! I feel like this on numerous days just at home with my husband a child. If I changed my heart and had a servants heart and didn't look at it as a chore, there would be more joy. Thank you for this. Thank you for your openness and honesty. What beautiful words!

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    1. that's such a good point, annie. it's not just when company is coming...sometimes it's hard just to serve our family & very closest friends unconditionally. here's to turning those chores into ways to live out love today.

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  15. Such a SUPER post. I appreciate your honesty so much! I would love to provide a link to this for my blog followers in hopes that they can be touched the same way I have been.....many can benefit from this lesson you have shared!!

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    1. go for it, katy! i'd love and be so humbled for the Lord to continue to use this lesson He taught me in others' lives.

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  16. Good stuff, Kim. Keep it coming!!!

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  17. My Pride destroys so many sweet opportunities for joy. I fully relate. I'll be purchasing that book as well; my very own Martha heart is always battling within. I really needed to read this this morning. Praise Him who is greater for His Grace and Redemption. I went to school in Boulder and so did my soon to be Hub. We've visited the Well a couple times when it was up in The Wesley Chapel I believe?

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  18. I love how you write so candidly, so honestly, so beautifully, and so straight to the point. I loved this post and definitely have been in the Martha club before (I guess that makes me a fellow member). I get it especially when I'm exhausted, feeling more hermit-y/introverted than normal, or when I don't feel like I'm appreciated (terrible, right?). Anyway, I just want to thank you for writing this post and for refreshing me on this Bible passage. I grew up with this story but kind of left the lesson in the back of my mind as of late.

    I really love that part when Jesus says to Martha, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one." That passage really went to my heart + humbled me as soon as I read it.

    And I also loved when you said that you were humbly serving on the outside but bitterly hosting on the inside. What a great reminder for us all to look inside and point our eyes + heart on Jesus.

    Thank you again for writing this post! And sorry this comment is so freaking long. :)

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  19. I'm the same way when we have company over...I can get really ugly over making sure everything looks "perfect" and lose sight of the important things. I had a total ugly Martha moment yesterday and I'm still feeling awful about it today...so humbling to know that we are forgiven and given another chance. Thanks for this really needed reminder. :)

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  20. My college roommates called me out on being a "Martha" multiple times when we had groups, dinners, or events at our house in college...and since being married the husband has lovingly taken over that job for them. I am definitely prone to still be that way. Praying more and more for the Lord to make me see His grace in my imperfection and sin of wanting to control everything. How little of me to think that my home being spotless...SPOTLESS...is more important than building gospel community and being at His feet.

    Thanks so much for this raw and honest post, Kim! Definitely reminded me of His grace and truth.

    And that part about Chase asking if he can help and you saying "no...fine...sigh" I smiled big at that one! Story of my life. If we're one, then shouldn't they be able to read our minds?!?!

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  21. What a beautiful reminder. Too often I do this with my husband. My actions say, "I will take care of these things," but my heart screams "Why aren't you helping?!"...Thank you so much for sharing.

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  22. I just read your "home" tour post and guuuurl, you're 25! I love when I meet people right around my age who are passionate to serve Jesus in everything and willing to step up and share the areas where they desperately need Him to come in and do His incredible grace filled weeding and cleaning.
    Jesus is good. I'm so glad you're sharing your love.

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  23. Thanks for sharing what's on your heart, Kim! My husband's pastoral internship started a few weeks ago and I find myself serving more and more in our small church. I had a similar moment of letting some hospitality setup challenges get the best of me a few weeks ago. I turned down someone's help and let the undone work become a burden while I was prepping/missing communion and it was just plain ugly! I'm grateful for your honesty and how God is using you to encourage, influence and challenge women to want to be more like Jesus.

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  24. I have the same problem. It's a terribly hard thing to break free from. Thank God for Jesus. We're called to serve, not to be served. When other people serve us that's grace and we should be grateful, rather than feeling like we're "owed" that or that we "deserve" it for some unidentified reason.

    But then at the same time, it's important to set good boundaries and not become a doormat so . . .

    yeah, tough stuff.

    Thanks for the reminder!

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  25. You have really convicted me through this post. I tend to do this more than I care to admit, and truthfully, it's HARD. I care for kids and run and do and deal with tantrums and diapers and potty training ALL DAY LONG and then the hubs comes home and immediately asks "what's for dinner?" and half the time I just at him like "really??"

    Yeah. I am totally a Martha. I am SO thankful for God's grace, and for YOU for sharing what is on your heart.

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  26. Wow. I totally hear you on this. I'm still learning what it means to support my husband, let alone the young church that he pastors. I hate to admit that I am quick to anger when he has meetings spring up left and right. And when I have to cook main dishes for people attending an event when they were just asked to bring a side? It's embarrassing to actually type out my thoughts. I've been standoffish and slow to serve. Thanks for sharing how you've been processing this. It definitely speaks to me.

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  27. boom.
    so good.
    no more marthas!
    marys, all the waaaaay :)
    or is it the other way around. i get them cornfused.
    love the way you write.
    simple. makes sense. i like it. i like you.

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