May 20, 2016

By Katrina Goodrich

I used to believe that I was a Mary. I was that girl who would be sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking in His presence and learning from Him while he taught. I never compared myself with Martha, the one in the background making sure the tasks of running a household are accomplished in a timely manner so everything runs seamlessly as possible. Martha was the one who chose poorly — so being like her is probably not a good choice, right?

Here’s the problem: I (and I suspect most women) feel much more like Martha than Mary. We are busy working full-time jobs as well as taking care of the kids and keeping track of everyone’s schedules. Even women who elect to be a stay-at- home mom often have dozens of things to accomplish each day. And who are we kidding, children are a 24/7 workplace. Sometimes you feel like you are the glue holding everything together and you’ve been slowly eroding away, becoming less effective with time. I imagine how Martha must have been feeling: a pile of things to be done and no one but her to do it, with a house full of company. I find myself sympathizing with Martha. Then I come to this realization: I am Martha much more often than I am Mary.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the team of one running to keep the world working. It’s usually when I get to that point that I begin to feel like I’m picking up everyone else’s slack. I’ve worked myself into the ground because I want everything to be perfect. I feel like perfection is the expectation and I have this innate need to meet it — no matter how impossible. From here two things can happen: I keep trying to do it all and implode. Or I look at those around me and can tell you everything they are doing that is hindering me from getting my stuff done and how they could be more helpful. Bam! That is what got Martha in trouble.

Trouble came for Martha, not because she was working, but because she forgot to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet and satisfy her own spiritual needs. I was recently privileged to attend a workshop given by John Chandler of the Spence Network. He spoke of the DNA of the Bible being covenant relationship and kingdom responsibility — Mary and Martha, respectively. You need both to progress in your relationship with Christ. John described the relationship between the strands as a “rhythm” rather than “balance.” I love that description because it takes some pressure off.

Being in balance is a really tricky thing to do. Balance sometimes requires contortions of which I am not capable. Rhythm, on the other hand, allows for more freedom of movement. I can work on both sides of the helix without feeling like I need to be both at the same time in equal measure. Sometimes you spend more time on one strand than the other and that’s OK! The problem comes when you only tend to one or the other. Martha forgot to feed the relationship and was only working on responsibility (a state, which based on feedback to this workshop, most of us are in). Again I’m going to use John Chandler’s words because they hit a chord with me. He compared spending all your time on kingdom responsibility to tachycardia. In other words, giving yourself a spiritual and potentially real-life heart attack. Not good. Spending all your time as Mary isn’t good either (al a James 2: faith without works is dead/bradycardia).

Jesus’ admonishment to Martha begins to take on a whole new meaning. He isn’t undervaluing her work but rather telling her she needs to take time at the other end of the pendulum — spend quality time with him.

Evaluate your rhythm: Are you spending time with both your relationship and responsibility? The amount of time doesn’t have to be equal, but are you heavily skewed in one direction (95%/5%)? If so, perhaps you need to think about adjusting your rhythm.

Clip to Evernote