Becoming a Mary
We live a fast-paced lifestyle. Our culture is driven to succeed, to acquire, to achieve. With the internet, we learned to rely on instant answers to our questions, instant delivery, and instant gratification. It often seemed the world was spinning faster than ever.
And now, due to the Coronavirus and the Shelter-in-Place orders, our lives changed drastically. We’re left with time on our hands and, perhaps, too much solitude. It’s required some getting used to, but the less frantic pace has some advantages.
For one thing, it’s easier to “be” in the moment. And I’m spending more time with Jesus.
Previously, my fixation with speed trickled into my spiritual life. Several years ago, Rick Warren said that Christians “wanted the quick fix, the shortcut, the on-the-spot solution.”
Warren’s description applied to me when I read it. I had to learn, as many Christians do, that God isn’t in the instant fulfillment business. As Warren pointed out “God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness.”
These days of semi-isolation provide me with the time to gather strength and grow in stability. As the pace slows, my thoughts turn inward. I’m more aware of the Holy Spirit within. My relationship with Jesus is going deeper. Listening has become my go-to prayer.
I realize now what it’s like to be truly present when I interact with other – although at a safe distance. I hold eye contact longer with strangers at the grocery store, smile wider, and listen eagerly. It’s the same when I interact through social media. I loiter over videos of my grandkids and drink in photos of family and friends.
The same can be said about my time with Jesus. I know now what it means to abide in Him. To linger. To practice His presence throughout the day.
I’m reminded of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-40:
When Jesus and His disciples stopped at Martha’s house outside of Jerusalem, Martha got busy. She prepared and served a meal for the group of men. While Martha worked, her younger sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, taking in His every word.
Angry that Mary didn’t help her, Martha asked Jesus if He cared that she had to fix the meal alone. She told Jesus to make Mary help her.
But the Lord didn’t do what Martha asked.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
I always identified with Martha in this story. I longed to be a Mary, but I was a Martha. It’s a Martha World, I’d tell myself.
It’s important for the Marthas to recognize something in this passage. It’s easy to miss. Jesus didn’t reproach Martha for her service but rather for being “worried and upset about many things.”
Serving our Master in a good thing. The problem occurs when serving distracts us from its purpose—loving others. When serving becomes a checklist for us, our eyes are no longer fixed on Jesus. Our eyes are fixed on what WE are doing. And, in Martha’s case, on what others around us are doing.
And Martha, being “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made,” and perhaps by her resentment toward Mary, was not in the moment. She wasn’t cherishing the time with Jesus, as was Mary.
Read what Jesus told Martha again: “few things are needed, or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better.”
That’s good news for the Marthas of the world. This doesn’t mean we stop serving, but that we simplify. We stop being a martyr to our busyness. We carefully evaluate what must be done and let the rest go. We allow ourselves to be in the moment, to find joy in our service.
It took a quarantine to teach me this lesson, but I’m becoming more like Mary.
My internal voice used to say, “Don’t just sit there, do something!”
Now I’m learning how to become still. I sit in my backyard, face turned upward to feel the sunshine. I laugh as squirrels play chase across the branches of the gigantic oak tree. I’m content to watch a flock of birds descend on my yard, enjoying a feast of fat worms after a spring rain.
And even when the lightning-fast lizard darts across the rock wall of my patio, reminding me of a former lifestyle, of things I need to do, still I linger. Sitting in the presence of Jesus.
What has changed for you since life slowed down?These days of semi-isolation provide me with the time to gather strength and grow in stability. As the pace slows, my thoughts turn inward. I’m more aware of the Holy Spirit within. My relationship with Jesus is going deeper. Listening… Click To Tweet
I have always loved the story of Mary and Martha. I tend to be a Mary, while I’m married to a Martha :). I can have the opposite problem by being content to read and study all day without doing. Thank you for sharing!
Also, I haven’t been getting your posts. Not sure why, but I checked and I am still subscribed. Maybe the got into my junk mail. Sorry, I haven’t been here lately!
You know, I did t get your latest one either. I thought Id solved that. I’ll check my junk mail too. You’re on WordPress too, right?
Thank you, Candyce, you made several great points here. This caused me to pause and reread, “When serving becomes a checklist for us, our eyes are no longer fixed on Jesus. Our eyes are fixed on what WE are doing.” I also reflected on this remedy to busyness, “We allow ourselves to be in the moment, to find joy in our service.” I wrote them both down as reminders when I get too busy.
I think it’s hard to live in the moment because most of us are taught at an early age to prepare for the future — which is important. But that trait needs to be balanced with taking the time to remember each day that, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
As I read your post, I relived the hurry-scurry lifestyle I embraced in the past. I’m thankful God led you and me to enjoy life’s precious moments as we listen to Him.
Hi Jeannie. I’m as eager as anyone to return to a more normal lifestyle, but I hope I will hang on to the His presence more than ever once the hustle and bustle begins again. Blessings!
Your message touches me deeply. I confess to being a Martha–have been all of my adult life. I KNOW I should be more Mary, but it is a constant battle for me. I agree that being more isolated gives me more time to “practice” Mary behaviors and I am trying. I’ve become a full time caregiver for a loved one and I’m struggling to find that “Mary” time, but I’m not going to give up. Your message inspires me. Thank you and wishing you continued blessings as you become more like Mary. Don’t let go of it once the world becomes sort of “normal” (whatever that is) again.
Katherine- so sorry to hear about your loved one. Serving as a full-time caretaker is challenging during normal times. I can’t imagine how tough that must be in the middle of a pandemic. It must be difficult not to worry or be upset at times.
I’m praying for you. Rest assured, Jesus sees you and us pleased.
Am so glad you are finding more time to spend with God, and on godly things, Ms. Candyce. I wish I could say the same, but in all honesty, this supposed pandemic has only served to try and steal more of my time. It seems I am busier now (at least I am working more hours each day) trying to keep up with things than I was before I was ordered to stay in/near home. God’s blessings ma’am. A wonderful lesson indeed on seeking what is important in our lives. We must always choose to make time for God.
I’m sorry you are overwhelmed with work demands. I pray thus will be over soon and we can return to a more normal way of life.
I hope we all can hold onto the lessons Jesus is teaching us during this challenging time.
Thank you for the insights you share on your blog. I’m thankful you’ve been able to keep that going.