Attitude, Balance, and Sisterly Strife

I have not written in over a month, and apologize to those of you who “can’t wait” to hear from me.

Have any of you ever suffered from vertigo? If so, you have my sympathies. I could blame my delay in writing at least partially on that. It was a “fun” few days until I went to a chiropractor and she did some adjustments and showed me how to get “balanced” again. Odd exercises, but they work! And if they will keep the vertigo away, I’m there!

When a person has severe vertigo, they are pretty useless. Everything is spinning, and when you try to put your feet up under you, well, it’s not gonna happen. In my case I was fortunate to have a husband around who is a CNA and didn’t mind taking care of me (getting me to the bathroom, bringing me my meals while I laid around for three days). Walking was impossible, and I certainly couldn’t go to work. (I couldn’t even dial the number to work because my phone thought it was a child’s top.)

This little episode makes me wonder if there are others “out there” who feel out of balance and maybe even useless. You’ve tried, you’ve struggled, but things just won’t come together for you. You want to serve God; you want to spend time with Him, but your attention is turned to the tasks you must accomplish in order to survive, in order to keep everything going. And even if you are not super busy, in our world of television, movies, electronics, and other things that are designed to catch our eye and keep our attention, our focus is easily distracted from Christ.

Most of you I’m sure have read the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10. If not, I invite you to open the pages of your Bible or take this link to Bible Gateway www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A38-44&version=NIV

You’ve also perhaps heard it preached on. I know I have. Several times. Now I love stories about women in the Bible but I get a little tired of trying to figure out if I am a “Martha” or a “Mary”. So I’m going to approach the story of these two women in a little different manner.

This particular account begins when Jesus who is now on his way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) passes though the unnamed village where Martha and Mary live. (Many assume this is Bethany because that is the locale mentioned in John 11.)

We see Martha opening her home to Jesus, prepared to serve her honored guest. And is she ever busy! The Bible only tells us that Martha opened her home to Him, but we should probably assume his disciples are present as the Bible seems to indicate there was a great deal to do.

But there’s a problem, and that “problem” is sitting at Jesus’ feet. Her sister Mary. I don’t know about you, but I wonder what Jesus is telling her. Are the words intended just for Mary? For Mary and Martha, or also for the disciples? I’m just curious about these things.

As Martha works, I can just see her fuming. Her sister sits while she takes care of “all the preparations”. And Jesus says nothing to that lazy Mary! Now that, my friend, is just not fair. How can He ignore her hard work?  And how can Mary be so inconsiderate? (I’m wondering how many of us have fumed in a similar way.)

Well, Martha has had enough. “Lord,” she says. “Don’t you care that I am doing all the work and Mary…she…she is doing nothing! She should not have left me to do all this. Look at her! She is just…sitting there. Tell her to come help me” (Okay, not to disrespect God’s word, but yeah, I threw in a few of my “insights”.) Her request seems fair enough. Certainly, not unreasonable.  But I do have to chuckle a bit at Mary. She starts her request with “Lord” then in the middle of it says “tell her”.

But maybe you can relate to Martha. Maybe you are totally on her side.

Lord, don’t you see me here drowning in this mess. I can’t get supper fixed for having to take care of a screaming baby. Can’t you get my husband to help?

OR

Lord, this is so unfair, I work hard at my job, but ______ only works when the supervisor is around, and yet she is favored and gets the promotion. How can You allow this injustice?

Now I don’t object to telling God how we feel. I think we should let Him know what’s going on, as if He doesn’t already. But back to the story.

Here Martha is working really hard and it seems Mary comes out as the “favored one.” Well, perhaps it’s comforting to know that Jesus gives Martha a relatively gentle rebuke. First off, He addresses her by name: “Martha, Martha…” (I feel that when God really wants to get my attention He speaks my name in that still small voice. “Now, now Eileen…” And I love it.) Notice He doesn’t tell her to quit serving but instead points out that the problem is her attitude about her serving. She is distracted or “troubled” by many things, and Mary has chosen what is better.

Wait, wait, she’s doing what’s better. Just sitting there?

Well we obviously can’t sit at Jesus’ feet like that all the time. But the only way we can serve Him (and by the way, that includes loving that co-worker or husband or whoever else you think is not doing their share) is to spend time with Him and find a way to ignore the distractions, even the things that seem to demand our time. Perhaps it’s a bit about finding “balance” in our hectic and often distracted lives.

Okay, so great, Eileen, but how do I do that? What you say sounds simple but I’ve tried and it doesn’t seem to work out for me.

I understand. I can feel your frustration for I remember the “days of yore” when I had small children, and perhaps it is your turn now—you are the mother who works outside her home, who is wrestling a baby and a toddler from the moment you get home, and by the time you get everything done just so those babies will be fed and bathed and put to sleep, you fall into bed exhausted, whisper a prayer, and drift off to dreamland yourself. So your time with the Lord is, well…minimal. Or maybe you don’t have kids and work is just stressful or your parents are ill and you’re exhausted from caring for those.

A friend of mine faced this same frustration when her children were small, and had no idea what to do. Until one day an older lady asked her a question. “Do you have time to take a shower? Can you pray while you are in the shower?” These words were so freeing to her, and showering became her alone time with God. Maybe that seems kind of lame and maybe that won’t be the right time for you. Maybe the kids are pounding on the door or even slipping notes to you under the door whenever you’re in the bathroom. Perhaps you can find a quiet corner at work while you’re on break. Perhaps when you have some time off, you can take some extra time with God to build your relationship. But don’t feel guilty because you don’t spend an hour in prayer, or because you don’t get up at 5:30 a.m. to pray.

And I can hear you: Like sure, I can do that. I was only up until 3 with a sick child. No problem. (Told you I understood.)

Don’t worry about the “giants of the faith” who set this “standard”. You are you. And God knows, and He understands.

And for those of you who can spend an hour or more a day praying and exploring your Bible, I encourage you to keep things balanced as well. It may be just as hard for you to avoid the guilt that tries to grab hold of you when you spend that time with Him.

Do you see? Satan has us coming and going. If we don’t spend enough time with God we’re guilty. If we spend the amount of time we feel we need, we feel guilty because we’re not “doing” enough.

Whatever your situation, whatever your phase in life, hold onto Him. Keep Him before you. Maybe simply pray His Name to restore your focus. Ask Him to remind you of His presence. He will bless you, as you seek Him. Don’t worry if it’s not “enough”. He loves you so much, dear ones.

Oh, oh, oh, and guess what happens in another passage? We see Martha interacting with Jesus in a very different way. But I’ll save that for another time. (If any of you want homework, read John chapter 11.)

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2 thoughts on “Attitude, Balance, and Sisterly Strife

  1. Great thoughts on a passage that speaks to the hearts of women from all walks of life. The verse Pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 seems to align with this subject. I agree it’s more of an attitude than a do-it tude that God calls us to. Even a few snatched moments of prayer and hearts turned to God are valuable in His eyes.

    • Thank you for your words. And yes, you’re right about I Thessalonians 5;17. That is an excellent verse to remind us of how to keep in close contact with God. I hadn’t even thought of that verse. A love your thought about a “few snatched moments of prayer and hearts turned to God are valuable in His eyes.” Awesome words, and something I need to remember.

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