A Mary Heart in a Martha Moment

I think holidays can bring out the worst in me. Often I find myself with great intentions and desiring to have a Mary heart, but I’m caught in a Martha moment.

Do you ever plan something, like a holiday at your house, that seems like a great idea at the time? You know, a couple of months prior to Thanksgiving you inform extended family of your plan to stay home for the holiday. Of course, you add they are invited to come. It always seems like a great idea at the time, but as the day approaches you begin to feel more and more pressure.

A Mary Heart in a Martha Moment

My Thanksgiving experience was exactly that. I had been reading the account of Mary and Martha, and couldn’t help but see the similarity.

when Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village when a woman named Martha opened her home to him. Luke 10:38

I wonder what Martha felt like. Do you think she freaked out when her invitation was accepted and she realized they were on their way? Is the kitchen clean? Are there enough groceries in the fridge? How long before they get here, and what is still undone?

My experience started with great intentions, but I quickly realized I wanted to have a Mary heart, but was in a Martha moment. My week began with a normal routine. I even marveled we got in a bit of homeschooling. As I considered fall canning still to finish, I began to feel pressure. My house wasn’t clean and I still hadn’t finalized holiday meal preparations.

She (Martha) had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. Luke 10:39

Doesn’t Mary have a lot of nerve!?! I understand the pressure Martha was feeling. I was dealing with kids and a new puppy. I had calls to make and appointments scheduled. Did I mention I squeezed in a morning devotion? I read. Well, something. I was the picture of tasks accomplished. Just don’t walk across the kitchen floor and not expect to experience a sticky feeling on the bottom of your slipper.

The day arrived to welcome guests. I had a house to clean, pies to bake, and preparations to perfect. The kids were so excited for the arrival of family. I wanted to be excited too. I wanted to relax over dinner or coffee and visit and catch up, but yet my mind was on preparations.

As the day progressed, I was exhausted and unfinished tasks loomed. A call to my husband revealed a schedule change. He didn’t expect to be home before arriving guests. WHAT?!? But he had said he’d be home. He was supposed to help. Now he’s busy. Working. Doing something other than helping ME?!?

But Martha was distracted by all the preparation that had to be made. She came to him and asked, Lord don’t you care that my sister (husband) has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her (him) to help me! Luke 10:40

I put my kids in front of a movie, and I quickly went to my prayer closet. Yes, finally! I grumbled to the Lord about that husband He gave me. Then I repented for grumbling. (If you are going to grumble about your husband, it should only be to God!) I grumbled about how tired I was. Then I repented for complaining. Mostly I got real and poured out my heart. And when that was done, I turned up the worship music, went to my kitchen, and baked a pie.

Although in my heart I still wanted to grumble, I chose to pray. I thanked God for my husband. I thanked Him for my husband’s job. I thanked Him for our family that was traveling and prayed they would be safe.

At one point, in the midst of my whining thoughts and praying heart, I sat down and checked my email. Pies were cooling, mopped floors were drying, and kids were quietly playing. The subject line of one email immediately drew my attention: Weary, Worried, and Mad: The Three Thanksgiving Thieves. There was much in the article that spoke to my heart. I took note when reading the encouragement under weariness, “Lift your head and survey the Lord’s blessings to you. The effort you put forth will be restored ten-fold as your spirit rises too and gains new strength for the journey. “

Martha, Martha, (Teresa, Teresa) the Lord answered. You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41

My husband arrived home from work, and guests shortly after. The children had a wonderful time. There was plenty of time to visit and play with the kids. The tasks, the stuff, always get done. Or, they don’t. All that stuff is not what is most important. Relationships are where beautiful things happen.

I don’t feel I completely understand how to balance the attitudes of Mary and Martha, but I am slowly learning that my focus must change and I need to more quickly lift my head to survey the Lord’s blessings for me.


  1. You are not alone in this struggle. I know I can certainly relate. Thanks for this reminder to pause and sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary.

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