Between Mary and Martha

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There is a story in the Bible about two sisters: Martha and Mary. We hear about them often: Jesus and friends came to visit their home. Martha worked like crazy, cleaning, cooking, playing hostess. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to her teacher. Martha complained to Jesus about Mary’s unwillingness to help. Jesus chided Martha, encouraging her to be with Him while she could.

This story is often retold with a measure of guilt, reminding us to give God our quiet time and not rush about, worrying over trivial matters. Fair enough. I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner today and have a laundry list of tasks to complete, not to mention the mound of laundry waiting to be folded. I need to channel my inner Martha, indeed. But I’m not. I’m also not really following Mary’s example, either.

This past year has left me sitting somewhere between the listening, receiving Mary and the diligent homemaker, Martha. I stopped working when my daughter was born a year a half ago and was thrilled to step into a new role as a stay-at-homer. Then I tore my ACL and had knee surgery while my baby was learning to sit. My little family and I sat at home on Thanksgiving and ordered Chinese take-out. In the midst of my recovery, I repeatedly dislocated my shoulder; that surgery was scheduled a week after my daughters’ spring birthdays. Another six months later, I packed up, traveled to an orphanage in Honduras, and returned home broken on the inside.

Now here I sit, day after day, needing to either hop up and Martha my way through the day or open my heart and listen like Mary. I do neither. I am numb. These difficulties have left me broken and poured out. Pretty tough to be filled up when the vessel is in fractured pieces and impossible to pour out when it’s bone dry. Yet, my family, community, Bible study, church, and this Thanksgiving meal need my jar to be whole, in constant filling up and pouring out.

I don’t believe God causes or wants bad things to happen. He didn’t allow my knee to buckle or shoulder to fall out. He certainly doesn’t want those children to be orphaned. God doesn’t desire my vessel, my heart, to be in shattered pieces. He wants to put it all together. Just as I want to help my daughters avoid getting hurt, find solutions, and learn how to make their world better, isn’t that what my Father would want for me? He wants to piece this broken vessel back together, me holding the jagged edges and allowing Him to be the glue. Then, only with my God holding me together, will I be able to be filled up and poured out again.

Mary and Martha, I am your sister in between. As we race into the holiday season, may Jesus wrap His own broken hands around my heart and hold me together. May I be open to all He has to teach and ready to pour out His love to everyone in my path.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” Martha replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
John 11:25-27

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