A Personal Testimony
At the Home of Martha and Mary
We each are the product in such large part, of our experiences, education and environment. If, like Martha, we have had life-long influences that impressed on us this incentive to do, as opposed to be, our relationship, our communication, our prayers, and the foundation and nature of how we imagine our Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will likely reflect our strong desire to do. It doesn't help that nearly everything from birth forward in this world also compels us to do, to achieve, to produce, to qualify, to score, to be proactive, to not just make the mark, but exceed, go beyond. So if these are the standards for success in my physical life, they must be applied to my spiritual relationship and life with God. I relate to Martha quite well.
While I can understand Jesus' comments, and His affirming Mary's way of responding, I am, at least at first, suspicious that this might not work. The evidence of my life's experiences seems to suggest this 'reactive' vs 'proactive’ approach cannot be trusted.
But here's an interesting point for me. This small but fascinating story helps me see how my perspective has such a natural tendency to lean towards my egocentric outlook, vs a God-centered existence. Even my worry, my stewing (upset), and my distractions give me comfort – feeds my ego - because at least I ‘doing’ something, which I have be conditioned to believe is good.
Yet, Jesus invites us to change our orientation, the way we live, even down to the micro-details of the moment, from Martha to Mary. As we are drawn closer in our relationship with Him, we believe who Jesus is. We also begin to surrender, to let go of our lives, to entrust everything we are, our existence to Him. This is hard for those who have such a propensity to be doing, and our loving Father sometimes lets us learn from new, unpleasant experiences.
Trials, tests, battles, each with their seemingly impossible solutions, seem to eventually get me to see that all my doing in the world can’t/won’t fix my issues. I’m left (sometimes in my exhaustive, spent state) to simply accept my Father’s love, and what He has already done for me in Jesus, as my answer. He has already resolved the matter… it’s me that hasn’t understood, acknowledged, and accepted it… and I can’t do anything to fix this. He invites me to simply accept what He has done for me. So why is being, which is so much easier than all the worry and stress of doing, so difficult to accept?
While Mary’s approach may seem at first illogical, and unworkable, when I see that, like He said, this is the ‘better’ choice, the only sensible choice for all that He has prepared for in my life, it truly does lift the burden and pressure that are a part of every ‘doer’s’ existence (Let go… Let God!)
This for me is the point of Jesus’ relating this example, because we’re so conditioned to be doers. He has ‘done’ everything that needed to be done, already, as a gracious gift for us. He invites us to ‘be’ with Him, as He does the work of His Church, with His precious children. A day at a time, not worried and stressed about tomorrow, patiently living in the moment, enjoying what He gives me to do with Him in His work. In my prayer, it makes perfect sense to with balance listen for Him, to allow the Spirit to teach, to guide, to encourage, rather than always bringing my long list of complaints and problems to Him. (Though He is loving and patient, He likely tires of hearing me harping over and over about my grievances, not unlike Martha.) While I’m not there yet and still want to ‘do’ things like Martha, thankfully, He’s inviting me to see, and move in the ‘better’ direction.