Dec 06

Being Martha

Sometimes I get confused. I suppose that isn’t too hard to believe, because I almost always have way too much going on in my brain. Many days I am in serious brain overload, and in the midst of that chaotic fog of remembering homework, answering emails, making decisions about everything from lunch money and gym shoes, to dental bills and dr. appointments, I forget to return the library books on time. I apologize for all my faux pas while just trying to get through a day!

I suspect, however, that I am not alone in this struggle to keep all the “plates” spinning, every day, all day long, and make sure that not one of them slips to the floor and shatters into a million pieces. We are all busy . . . . most of the time many of us are just way TOO busy. But what’s a mama to do?

All of that reminds me daily of one other thing that I have found a bit confusing for many years. It has been my experience that those of us who seek desperately to honor God with our lives, and who daily search for God’s guidance in ministering to others, are reminded (at least once a year) of the virtue of being that proverbial “Proverbs 31 woman.”

You know, the one who searches for the best wool to spin into yarn so she can make clothing (and probably socks) for her family (and probably all of her servant girls, too). She’s the lady who more than likely clips coupons so she can drive from store to store shopping for all the best deals in town, and to do that, of course, she gets up at the crack of dawn (wait, it’s still dark here this morning . . . can I go back to bed for a little snooze before it is time to get the kids up for school?).

Well, and the reason she has to get up so early is to cook breakfast for her family (and her “servant girls”?) before she flies out the door to meet with her real estate agent to check out the property on the other side of town before she buys it with extra money she has earned (doing all that other stuff), so she can plant a garden.
This is the woman who apparently goes to the gym at least three or four times a week, because she really has strong arms. She is definitely one whose work ethic is to be applauded for she works all night long to make sure that her business is profitable (hmmmm . . . . if her lamp does not go out at night, how can she get up early? I guess I’ll try to figure that one out another day!).
This girl spins her own thread and sews her own clothes (and all of the clothing for her family AND her servant girls), and in her spare time she works at the soup kitchen in town once a week. She bakes cookies and takes a casserole to her neighbors who are in need, all while watching carefully to see that her children are dressed in the latest fashions.

While she is stitching up all those beautiful garments for her children et al, she manages to squeeze in time to make a purple bed covering (and probably matching pillow cases and curtains), and then before you know it, she has whipped up a brand-new outfit for herself.
Which, of course, she will need for the upcoming holiday dinner at the city gate. Because she absolutely must make a good impression on all the others who will be there; she wouldn’t want her husband to be embarrassed by her presence.
As she finishes the last stitch on her new outfit, she remembers that the local merchants are expecting her to deliver an order for 100 new linen garments . . . by Friday and it is already Tuesday. Oops, don’t forget the sashes that go with all those linen thingies!

This is the woman who is always happy, spreading joy to all she meets; she never forgets to go to the women’s Bible study class on Wednesday morning . . . .after all, she is the teacher, so it is her responsibility to speak with wisdom and faithful instruction.

This is one busy lady! No wonder she can’t find time to sleep – she watches over the affairs of her household, and she does not eat the bread of idleness. Whew! I’m amazed at all she accomplishes in a day. But the reward makes it all worth it. Her children arise and call her blessed, and her husband praises her. It’s all in a day’s work, I guess, for this busy woman.

So, why am I confused? Well, because then once I think I just about have this “Proverbs 31” woman thing figured out (really?), I fly out the door on a Sunday morning (to teach Sunday school, sing in the choir, and then scoot on into the nursery to take care of the babies and toddlers so the young mamas can listen to the sermon in peace), and while rocking a screaming baby and keeping a toddler from eating the wad of toilet tissue that looks like a marshmallow, I manage to hear snippets of the morning’s sermon.

And that’s when I wonder how I could have gotten it so wrong for so long. Somehow, in the midst of all the flurry of “Martha” activities like feeding my kids, washing the dirty dishes and doing the laundry, I have forgotten that Mary “had chosen what is better.”

While Martha was bustling around making sure there were enough appetizers for everyone at the party, rushing back and forth filling glasses with water (or wine?), and pulling the pizza rolls out of the oven before they burned, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Sitting. And apparently not feeling guilty. Why can’t I find some of that guilt-free sitting time?

To add a bit of insult to injury, Martha was then gently reminded by Jesus to “Cool it, kid! Sit down and take a break.” Really? Is that how it works? Then who is going to do all that “Proverbs 31” stuff? Apparently I need to figure out a way to do all that virtuous woman business while sitting at the feet of Jesus.

It is always a good reminder, especially at this time of year, that we need (really need!) to slow down, take a break, and spend some time at the feet of Jesus. I know that we all feel pulled and pressured, stressed and anxious over all of the extra stuff we have to do around the holiday season.

I mean, after all, just because there’s a holiday in a particular month does not mean that God automatically gives us extra hours (and our paychecks do not automatically increase!) to accommodate all the added tasks, responsibilities, and expenses.

So, somewhere in the midst of all the busyness of our days, and along our journey towards becoming that virtuous “Proverbs 31” woman, we need to figure out how to add one more thing to our “To Do” list . . . . sit quietly at the feet of Jesus.

How to do it? I have no clue! I guess we just have to give it our best shot, ask God for guidance and pray that we figure out how to sit quietly for more than 30 seconds without feeling guilty – and maybe someone else will feel inspired to spin the wool and knit those socks, buy a field, plant a garden, and clip coupons and wash the dirty clothes.

All those things are good, but we just might get lost in the Jungle of Too-Busy if we aren’t careful. Come on out of that jungle and catch your breath while you listen to the words of our Lord. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about anyway?


  1. Tina Smith

    I can relate to this so much! =) If I figure it out I’ll give you a heads up.

  2. Laurie Visser Ruhstorfer

    Come on…you know how the Proverbs 31 woman got it all done…she had servants, muliple housekeepers, cooks, nannies, etc. We just have ‘Lil ol’ Me! Be a Mary…pick and choose what is MOST important, and let some things slide!

    1. Nina

      Right . . . . so where are MY servants, housekeepers, cooks, and nannies??? ;o) That’s my point – but that Proverbs 31 woman continues to haunt us every time we hear a Mother’s Day sermon . . . .

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