Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Even before I knew I was a Christian, I knew I was a Martha. I was sitting in my van in a suburban parking lot when I read the story of the two sisters from Bethany. I understood intellectually that when the Lord shows up at your house, the only right way to be with Him – to be with anyone who shows up at your house, really – is to do what Mary did. Sit down with Him. Open to Him. Listen to Him. Love Him.
I also knew for someone with my overachieving, perfectionist nature, this was going to be tough.
Since then, God has given me many opportunities to choose what Christ called “the better part.” In fact, I get a new chance every day — that’s how often He shows up at my house. He shows up as two chubby-cheeked, shining-eyed three year olds trailing the fragrance of the sweet and holy. They’ve missed their mommy while I’ve been at work.
And am I present to them? Do I get down to hug them when I walk in the door? Do I sit down and do a puzzle with them?
Of course not. I bustle! I tidy up! I get dinner on the table! And I snap anyone who’s not on the program.
But after the kids have gone to bed and the kitchen is clean, I wish I hadn’t caused that tantrum by rushing my daughter through her bath. At work, I sit at my desk and hear the abusive, negative echo of the mean mommy voice I used when I hustled everybody out the door in the morning.
So yesterday I resolved to be Mary for a night. I wouldn’t get “distracted with many tasks,” even if it meant the house was a mess and the kids got in bed at 10.
When I came home, I hugged and kissed everyone. Then I got out of the kitchen, letting my husband cook bacon and fish sticks while I sat down at the train table and hung out with our twins. I gave the kids a long bath and let them play an insanely delightful (to them) game of pretending they were blanket-wrapped kittens afterward. I didn’t rush anyone.
And you know what? They got to bed earlier than they have all week.
And I don’t know about all the dishes I’ve cleaned and toys I’ve put away over the years, but I know that sitting down with my children last night, opening to them, loving them, will not be taken from me.
How about you? Do you ever struggle to choose Mary’s “better part?”
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