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Martha and Mary's Story: Which one are you?
Martha and Mary
Martha and Mary: which one are you? First, you need to know who Mary and Mary are. Some years ago I heard a sermon on Martha and Mary. Well, it wasn't actually a sermon but a a retelling of the story of Martha and Mary by a nun at a mother and daughter breakfast I was attending. The funny thing is even though it was some years ago it has always stuck in my head, maybe because it related so well to me!
We need to start at the beginning. In the Bible according to Luke there is a story about Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The three were friends of Jesus that lived in Bethany. They must have been pretty good friends because there are three separate episodes written about them in the Bible.
Most people have heard of Lazarus, Jesus' friend that Jesus raised from the dead. When Martha and Mary told Jesus Lazarus had died because he didn't come, Jesus was sorrowful and went to the tomb. He called Lazarus out of the tomb and Lazarus was awakened from the dead. But, that's not my story here!
Lazarus' sisters Martha and Mary were friends of Jesus as well. Living in Bethany, near Jerusalem, it was risky being Jesus' friend at the time because there were factions not happy with his teachings. Yet, they welcomed him into their home. During one of Jesus' visits to their home, Martha was busy preparing food and getting the meal ready. (Historians indicate Martha was most likely the older sister and head of the household.) Anyway, while Martha was busy getting everything ready and working in the kitchen area, Mary disappeared and was found sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his talk and taking in his every word. This upset Martha and she told Jesus. He replied, "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."
These are encouraging words on many levels. Jesus was encouraging Mary to stay and listen, not a role usually assigned to women of this time. Martha was the hostess and Jesus never downplayed her role either. Over the centuries historians have reviewed this story and given it great significance for women, showing that Jesus believed women had many roles and did not downplay their role in the world...again, not exactly a sign of the times.
Could be Martha's house
So now that you know the story of Martha and Mary, which one are you? Before you answer, stop and think about it.
Martha - the perfect hostess, probably the perfect housekeeper as well. Worried about whether or not her house is ready for guests at all times, never knowing when someone will stop by. Then there's the meals. Always planning so that if someone does stop by there is a perfect meal to make, even if there are twelve or thirteen guests. Think about that for a while. You have to be a REALLY super housekeeper and cook to fit those regulations! Twelve or thirteen people...could you do that at a moment's notice? Okay, let's make it more contemporary and realistic, how about a family of say five..if they stopped by out of the blue could you feed them without ordering out? Would your house "be in order" without you running around like a headless chicken? Funny we now have Martha Stewart. Maybe she's a direct descendant of Martha in the Bible! My mother was a Martha. You could stop by our house any time night or day and everything was in it's place. She was always ready with food of some sort and could whip up a meal at a moment's notice. One of my daughters is a Martha. You could eat off her floors! She's always running around cleaning things. Meals might not be ready for company but there's take out today to make up for that and where she lives you can get any kind of take out from any ethnicity AND they deliver!
Could this be Mary's house
Then, there's Mary. No one ever said she was lazy or didn't do housework or cooking. The intimation here is that Mary was more interested in other things. Mary may have done her fair share but was probably more of a thinker than a doer. Mary is the one who would have said, "oh #$% we have company, what am I going to feed them?" Mary would keep her house clean but not worry about it. If something was out of place, oh well. Mary would cook too but again, not be worried if it was fancy or haute cuisine, hamburgers and fries would do just as well. I am a Mary (not just because that's my name). When we heard this talk my mother chuckled because she knew she was a Martha and I was a Mary. I thought it was much more important to play on the floor with my kids than to do the ironing. I'd rather go to my kids baseball games than put away their laundry. My house was always clean but when my kids were little it was never what you would call 'neat'. There were toys everywhere and even though I tried to conquer them, they conquered me. After the fourth child I decided we'd clean up the toys once a day or so and deal with stepping over them the rest of the time. One of my daughters is also a Mary. Like me, her house is never dirty but it's never really neat. She works full time and with two very active and involved kids there's not a lot of time to try to be 'Susie homemaker.'
So, now that you've read the descriptions, which one are you? Are you a Martha? Do you have a sparkling house and almost a fetish for keeping it that way? Can you whip up a gourmet meal at a moment's notice without a hair out of place? House done, make up on, always ready.
or...are you a Mary? Your house is clean and cleaning is done when necessary. You have nothing against throwing a burger on the grill while you get ready to read a book or go to a concert. Your hair is mostly in place, but it is not one of your priorities. Make up is worn only when you're going someplace special.
or....are you a cross between Martha and Mary? There are some of those you know. Fanatics about housecleaning or cooking or vice versa. They concentrate on one thing and totally excel at it. They may be the best cooks in the world but don't even know how to run a vacuum cleaner! Or the other way around. Their house is so spotless it looks like it belongs in Better Homes and Gardens but they order take out every night because they can't even boil water.
Leaving out the cross between Martha and Mary, which one are you? Are you a Martha or are you a Mary? (For conversation sake we'll let the guys choose one for themselves as well.)
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