I have always been one to point at Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and justify my lack of Martha skills. Clearly, Jesus liked Mary’s idea better, right? He even said so! Well, I’d like to think I can hold onto that day in and day out but I really don’t think Jesus quite meant for that. Just look at Easter time. We all want to worship Jesus on this most important day of the Christian calendar, but if I’m stuck in prayer and my Bible all day who is going to bake the ham, set the table, and run the sweeper? I need my Martha to balance my overwhelming Mary-mindedness.
Everyone knows that if you want to improve your game, you play with others who are better than you.
Housecleaning has never been my strong suit. If you want to be the next Martha, don’t watch me. It’s not that I don’t know how. It’s that it is not my favorite thing to do. I can always seem to find something more “urgent” to attend to. I don’t feel like I’m very good at it. I’ve never really been taught about how to be a good stay at home mom. Has anyone, really? I mean, unless your mother is a Martha, the answer is probably no. In short, obtaining the discipline needed to keep up on daily housework is difficult for me. (Let me just add that I thank God every day that my mom spent more time with me than with her feather duster.)
Nevertheless, when the shoe closet begins to overflow with too small shoes and I find myself picking hordes of dog hair off of my tights after sitting on the couch, I start to freak out.
I got to thinking about this adult life long issue and I consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, I have never really given housework my all. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely do not think it is the most important thing…obviously. If it is between reading a storybook to my kids or teaching them about the Bible, I will drop the mop faster than you can say Dr. Seuss. But, if I am honest, our home is quite possibly the whole of the world around them. If I do not serve them well in it, I am not serving them well.
I am reminded of a home economics hospitality class I attended a few years ago. Afterward, I was anxious and excited to try new ideas and wow my family with special napkin folds, new recipes, and unique organization. I had been taught some basic housewarming ideas from an experienced expert and she was, believe it or not, excited about housework.
It got me to thinking about how sometimes we lazy humans just need a good example. We don’t need more condescending voices telling us how we must do thus and so better or how miserably we’re failing. We already know that part. We don’t need another 12 step guide to the galaxy. On the contrary, we often need an expert to simply take the time to show us how; give us some fresh, new ideas on how to go about it; exemplify doing that unappealing “job” in a very appealing and energetic way. We need someone to help our perspective on the given task from “I have to” into “I get to” do this thing. Yeah, adults need pep talks, too.
When I think of how many people think about their spiritual life like I think about my housework, it saddens me. I compare my notes. I hear so many Christians say things like, “I don’t read the Bible because I don’t understand it or get anything out of it” or “I wish I could trust God and stop worrying about everything.” Many people seem to feel overwhelmed and defeated before they even begin on the road to real growth and maturity – just like me in the toy-strewn living room.
When anxiety, anger, frustration, impatience and spiritual dryness begin to take their toll like old shoes and dog hair, we know we need to go to God some way. But how?
I have learned that if I am going to clean and beautify my home effectively, I’m going to have to do it one room at a time. Step by step; begin at the beginning; build a foundation upon the basics I already know and then get more advanced. If we’re dealing in spiritual terms that means one prayer at a time, one verse at a time, being purposeful to spend time with strong, experienced, mature believers, watching them, asking advice and taking it, gleaning from their wisdom, asking questions, studying their spiritual disciplines and then doing our own.
One thing I should mention is that the lady who taught the class on hospitality was not only very excited and interested in her craft – she was also very willing and available to share it. Helping other Christians grow in their love for the Lord requires more than a good example. It requires openness, transparency, and willingness to sacrifice our own time in order to share our gifts with others. I believe this is the single most important trait of any good leader.
My husband owns a specialty car garage and he is an expert. He is not only an expert, though. He loves his trade. He shares his trade. He answers questions constantly, makes time for every customer and tours them around showing them what he does, how he does it, and why he does it these very particular ways. That is why he is successful. He gives others a sense of belonging and excitement about what he is doing.
Back to my housework, though. A few years removed from my Martha in the flesh experience, I am back to square one. No one goes to a one time class and becomes an expert and let me tell ya, the thrill wears off. I need a boost. I look up hospitality on the internet. I ask friends for fresh ideas. I scour pinterest. What it really comes down to, though, is whether or not I’m willing to give it my all. If the answer is no, I will stay stalled, frustrated, and overwhelmed by that which I have no real desire to accomplish. I have to actively push in to the things I’d rather pull out of sometimes simply because they are the right things.
I hope if you are spiritually stalled, you will do the same. Ask yourself if you have really given it your all and do not be surprised how much better at it you are than you originally thought when you do.