Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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For All You Marthas Out There

There are some women who just ooze sweet. They’re the women who are so excited about life that when you walk away from a chat with them you realize your cheeks are killing you from smiling so big for so long.

They look at this world as something to decorate, and their afflictions are always an opportunity at practicing patience. Their blogs portray even the greatest nightmare of tragedies {miscarriage, cancer, death} as a discipline of stronger faith in God.

I long to be one of those women.

I’m not good at flowery. I’m not good at sugar-coating. Mostly I’m good at trying not to scare people away by the blatant, unadulterated truth.

I’ve never been graceful. I’ve been known to be opinionated. I also work my butt off in circles around the dainty ladies who match their underwear with their outfits.

When I was a teenager, I studied a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I’m not really sure what all the book tries to get at. I’m sure the author is a sweet spirit and already has some stars in her crown.

Still, I remember leaving that book study feeling like I was broken. Not right. Made in the image of something other than God.

Enter conflict of self-image.

I guess that seed was planted long ago…the idea that I was somehow not pleasing to God in my true form. It slowly built momentum over the years, but it really showed it’s gnarly head during our last round of training with our non-profit organization.

We had spent three days in a board room, listening to procedures, policies, and protocols. At the end of every presentation, we were asked to respond. In an attempt to be the gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of the Lord, I sat on my hands and bit my lip until I thought I was going to burst.

I couldn’t help it! I did have ideas! And I wanted to share them and dialogue with other people about their ideas.

My husband, who in his thirty years has yet to feel that he might burst about anything, sat beside me all week without saying a word. And people asked him what he thought. Oh, how I long for the day when someone has to ask me what I think about something.

One night during this orientation week, I couldn’t take it anymore. The enemy had filled my mind with lies, and had completely robbed me of my confidence in myself.

All the blog posts I had read about introverts being reflective and wise and insightful, I believed that none of those could be true about me. I am 110%+++ extrovert, after all.

All the personality tests I had taken for training continued to describe me with words like assertive and outspoken and overachiever. Those sounded like negative traits in my ears.

For months, I had begged that the Lord take away my desire to speak. I asked Him to work His greatest miracle and make me a quiet, gentle-spirited woman.

God, pleeeeease, take away my ideas and my thoughts…free me from the desire to talk! Remove my tongue if you have to, or maybe something like that but less painful. Just lift me out of the bondage of an administrative nature.

Nevertheless, I lay in bed hysterically {literally} confessing to my husband that night, torn between the person I was and the person I so desperately wanted to be.

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I think Martha must have felt this way. In Luke 10, she’s the one who invited Jesus into her home. She’s  the one who made him food to eat. She’s the one who noticed things and got the ball rolling.

But Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet. And for that she was praised. Jesus told Martha that she worried too much about things that didn’t matter, and that Mary had chosen the better thing to occupy her time.

I won’t argue with this. It’s true. Choosing Jesus always wins. Let’s move on.

In John 11-12, we come across these women again. Their brother, Lazarus, has just died. It’s Martha who runs out to meet Jesus and complains that if he had been there, none of that would have happened.

This would so have been me. A million times me.

But JESUS, now I’m grieving, and I know you could have saved me from that!

I’m not sure how much time passed from that point, but He visits them again six days before his crucifixion. Again, Martha is the one serving. Putting food on the table. Seeing the needs that should be met.

But it’s Mary who breaks an expensive jar of perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet, washing them with her hair.

Wow. Mary. Always the one-upper.

I’m kidding. It’s the Marys of the world that keep us Marthas in check. You teach us and move us. I don’t mean to hate.

What surprises me in this story, though, is that Martha’s personality didn’t change from the time Jesus was first in her home. That woman was designed to be a go-getter and a servant.

Mary, by nature, was a listener and a worshipper.

Neither one is better or worse, but the context makes all the difference.

Here’s the two things I’m choosing to draw from the Mary/Martha saga:

1.    It’s not wrong to be a Martha on a normal day. I mean, praise Jesus for Marthas! The world needs more spunk, more vision, more ambition. Martha is a strong woman who is intuitive enough to meet the needs around her.

Even when she was complaining about Jesus showing up late to help her dead brother, she made the most perfect confession:

“I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He that comes into the world.”

If you are a fireball of a lady and feel less spiritual because of it, give yourself some grace. I mean by all means, be self-actualized with it and know when to shut up. But keep holding your head high that you are made in the likeness of the One True King.

I support you, friend, in your endeavors. Your dreams, plans, and busy schedule are a gift from God, and He can work through you to do absolutely amazing things.

2.    Always choose the better part. There are always things to be doing. Good, godly, spiritual things.

There will always be mouths to feed, people to clothe, money to give, and places to serve. But your time with Jesus is not always there in your lap.

I have done a lot of thinking and planning and teaching without being close to Jesus. If there was one thing my 40-day fast taught me, it’s that I must prioritize my quiet time with Him before any other act of goodness.

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

If we don’t make our time with God sacred {and I don’t mean a legalistic Bible Study time}, then we are missing out on the Father’s ability to speak truth and life into our servant hearts and busy hands.

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Carry on, my soul sister. You and I both have a lot of things to get done today.

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Comments

comments

Brooke ChambersApril 10, 2014 - 5:43 pm

I loved this, thank you, from a Martha heart ❤❤❤

Lola-Margaret HallApril 10, 2014 - 5:50 pm

Lauren, you already know me. You know I am right there beside you. May God help us both to use our personalities in a way that glorifies Him.

Lauren Bentley BattistelliApril 10, 2014 - 6:08 pm

Thank you for this. I am 100% introvert and find myself praying and wishing more to be that outspoken, bold person (of course in a necessary, called for situation ). And at the same time I’m no Mary either, but this really helped me remember what I need to do and what God want from me and to use what he’s given me for his purpose. After all he wouldn’t have given us certain gift and qualities if their wasn’t a way to use them to honor him. You knocked it out if the park again Lauren! Praying for you!

Tom O'NealApril 10, 2014 - 7:38 pm

We love all of the messages that God gives you to share with us! He is using you in a mighty way-Mary and Martha both!!!!

Kim Zappavigna BaileyApril 11, 2014 - 12:06 am

You are such a blessing,thanks!

Melissa HortonApril 11, 2014 - 2:53 am

Lauren, it’s Melissa. I wanted to say that I think your “made in the image of something less than God” comes from the awareness of there being a Mary and a Martha. Figure out which one you are and take it to God. The story of Mary vs. Martha was not an attack on over-achievers or extroverts (Jesus, God himself, nicknamed John and James, the ‘Sons of Thunder’.) Martha was discussed/criticized because she was over-worried about serving (and seemingly oblivious to the pleasures of sitting at the Master’s feet). Imagine it’s Christmas morning and everyone is opening gifts under the tree (That is what it is, after all) and you are scrubbing toilets. Everyone would think you were strange. So, by all means, organize, galvanize, and be boisterous doing it. God created you that way. Quiet in the Biblical sense doesn’t mean “volume”, but calm and confidently at rest. Zephaniah 3:17 (Wow, how many times do we get to use Zephaniah ?)

Tanya SmithApril 11, 2014 - 2:59 am

A very insightful article to meditate on!

Teresa BolmeApril 11, 2014 - 4:32 pm

I loved meeting you at our initial IF:Gathering brainstorming meeting. I love your heart and your passion. I am a certified introvert with an inner, passionate extrovert waiting to burst out. I think you are perfectly paired with Gavin and as such, should consider your place in your partnership. You have completed the ‘one-ness’ personality of your union.

If Gavin is not an overtly passionate person, then God has given you that place. I am that person in my marriage as well. I have learned to talk my thoughts and emotions through with my husband, discern what God is leading, and allow him to guide the conversations we need to have. You have these passions for a reason. Please do not deny them.

God created you this way, in HIS image. It takes all of us, working together, to pull off the total package He planned for us. As a team, working with the Holy Spirit, you guys will do great things for the Kingdom. You inspire me!

Jane MulderApril 11, 2014 - 8:59 pm

Lauren, I understand and have always been a Martha (it could be southern sweet tea) but as I get older I try to be more like Mary. I do think you are a leader so God will show you the way!