As you know, I used to be obsessed with keeping my home immaculate and struggled especially as I became a mom all the while trying to keep my home magazine worthy. If we had invited company to come over, I would work for days and practically spring clean my home to prepare for just a few hours together. I would peruse cookbooks to find just the right recipe for an impressive dish to serve our guests. In fact, by the time our company arrived, I would be exhausted and probably not in the greatest mood due to my unmet expectations and lack of initiative and help from my family. I had to laugh when I sat in on some of Todd Wilson’s conference sessions last weekend when he told the story of when he mentioned to his wife that he much preferred having company drop in unannounced. She questioned his motives … and his reply was that she was always so mean from Thursday to Saturday while she was prepping for company. I can totally relate to this …and my family probably can too.
Have you ever read the story of Mary and Martha? “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister Mary sat on the floor, listening to Jesus as he talked. But Martha was the jittery type and was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Sir, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “Martha, dear friend, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her!” This story used to bother me a lot. I’ve always been a “do-er.” I struggle to sit still especially when I see something that needs picked up or put away. I love to work, feel productive and stay on top of things so as I interpreted this story, I felt as though Jesus was lessening the importance of keeping a home and family functioning well. I felt just as Martha did when I read that passage. That was disturbing.
I do believe that part of the lesson in this story of Mary and Martha is the importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet and spending time with him (I’ve shared my struggles and how I’ve benefitted when I’ve put Him first). However, I heard another perspective just recently and I thought the speaker hit the nail on the head. He shared how he felt that Jesus was referring to the importance of relationships. He went on to say that we mustn’t miss the opportunity to build relationships, especially with our loved ones but also with others. (As I always say… A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet!) I think if we were to be honest with ourselves that when it comes right down to it, what really matters in life are the relationships we have. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of life and become overwhelmed with them just as Martha was. With perspective, we can see that Mary and Jesus would have been happy to pitch in and help finish up supper at Martha’s house once they were all finished visiting in the living room. Too often we want to be in control and fuss and go overboard when really all we wanted in the end was great fellowship and connecting with each other! I’ve heard comments over the years referring to the amount of effort that was put in to having company over and how it wasn’t appreciated. Yes, I agree that being hospitable isn’t easy at times but if we would relax and put the emphasis more on the people than on the place, I believe we would be more encouraged, enlightened and less stressed!
Most times, as we get our eyes off ourselves and all the effort that we have to put in to keep our lives just right, we find that life becomes easier, more enjoyable and we are more present in our situations. Let me paraphrase what Jesus said… “(Dear reader, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. Learn the lesson from Mary that relationships are the most important. First of all, spend time with ME! Out of that will come the help you will need to handle your daily affairs. Secondly, put others first. Make relationships with those around you a priority. Shut off your televisions, your cell phones and your laptops. Be more present. You’ll never regret the time you invest in people!)” Have a great week and I pray that we will all see the value in those around us!
Scripture reference: Luke 10:38-42