The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Choosing That Good Part

on May 17, 2012

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41&42

We were studying this particular passage in my Sunday School class last Sunday.  I always feel the need to defend poor Martha whenever these verses are discussed. I understand Martha.  I get what Martha was trying to do.  Okay – I am Martha most of the time. I am task oriented by nature, a “let’s get this job done” kind of person.  I’m a list maker. (Yes – I have put things on my to do list that I have already done just so that I can check it off.) I get so focused on what I need to do that I forget the people for whom I am supposed to be doing it.  I can get so overwhelmed by the task that I take it out on the people around me.  I want everything to be perfect.  I want everyone else to be happy. I get Martha.

Because I get Martha, I see a few things in here that others may not see.  First of all, Jesus did not tell Martha she was wrong to want to feed people.  Someone had to feed everyone.   These people were going to get hungry.   The problem was that her that her focus had shifted from what needed to be done to majoring on the minor things, and then she started whining about it.  That is usually what happens.  The details aren’t as important to others so you get frustrated that no one is helping you obsess over them. No one gets that all this stuff needs to be done.  No one sees your checklist is still half unmarked.   The task becomes the mission. (see I get Martha!) What Jesus said to Martha, basically, was “Relax”.   He gently reminded her that in this case spending time with Him was more important than making sure there was a lemon wedge in each glass.  They were going to eat, it didn’t need to be a feast. In other words, “we’ll be happy with a bologna sandwich.”   

 Jesus also didn’t say that the work never needs to get done. Over the years I have had  conversations with several different people who have taken “Mary” to extreme.  People who will say things like: “I don’t need to clean my house or spend all my time doing laundry. I don’t want to turn into a ‘Martha’.”  Yes. I imagine that is a GREAT witness to your frustrated husband.  That ought to get him to come to church. Or – my favorite –  ” I feel called to be like Mary,  so I can’t help teach that Sunday School class. That would take away from my time  with Him.”  Right. Because the Lord never called us to serve Him and others.     No where in this story does Jesus say “Martha you idiot.  What you are doing is not important.” what he said was “Mary has chosen the good part.”  In other words, Mary saw that at that moment sitting at Jesus’ feet was more important than making sure the table linen matched the stemware.  I’m quite sure that she intended to help her sister after the men had left.  She just understood  balance a little better at that moment.   Somehow Martha has gotten the rep for being the “bad one” while Mary has been elected the more spiritual one.  I don’t think that was the case. In fact, when you catch up with this family later in the Bible, it says,  “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  John 11:5  Yep – same Martha. 

So what does all this mean for me and my fellow “Martha-esk” women of the world?  We need to work at choosing the best part.  Put down the list.  Turn off the task pad.  Yes, the work needs to be done but it doesn’t need to define who we are.   We do not need to kill ourselves and become frustrated with others because they are not helping us kill ourselves.  Some days good enough IS enough. 

This has been a ridiculously busy week: award nights, final banquets, end of the year stuff….any parent knows what I’m talking about.  My husband has been off since Monday morning and has to go back to work out-of-town on Friday morning. This is great because he can attend the children’s final activities.  This isn’t so great because his wife has lost some focus. I’ve felt like I’m meeting myself coming and going.  Working, trying to get things ready for an award night at church, feeding everyone, doing laundry…you get the picture….being a Martha. 

My parents came up last night to attend an honor ceremony for our younger daughter.  They spent the night.  I was so proud of myself because, in my quest to focus more on what is really important, I told my boss I was going to spend time with them this morning and would come into work at noon.  This is very rare for me.  There are tasks to complete.  Things to get done at work. So I spent this morning chatting with my parents and enjoying their company.  My husband work up a little while before my parents were ready to leave.  It was delightful so much fun.  I was so glad that I had finally “Chosen the good part”.  Once my parents left, I jumped up, started laundry, worried about what I’m feeding the kids for supper and hopped into the shower so I could go to work.  At  10:30.  (I told my boss noon remember?) My husband watched my jump into to checklist mode and quietly went out to mow.  Tonight we have to attend another banquet and take our son to get signed up for fall football…another busy night.  He leaves tomorrow at 4:30am for another four day stretch.  As I drove to work – early – I realized I hadn’t chosen the good part.  The best part.  I hadn’t spend the extra time I could have with my husband. I missed it. 

It’s hard to find a balance.  I may never become a “Marth-ary”….


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