This past Sunday, the Gospel reading told the story of Martha and Mary, a story that I assume everyone familiar with the Gospels knows by heart. No matter your religion or creed or background, I’m sure you agree that within each of us lies a Martha or a Mary. Those who possess the characteristics of both women are truly the smart ones, the ones who understand that life is a balance. In the story of Martha cooking and cleaning and Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, Martha always seems to get the bad rap, but I would argue that the world needs both Marthas and Marys, and that we should all strive to be both. Here’s why…
The Marthas among us (regardless of the names) are doers. They are workers, inventors, crafters, movers and shakers. They teach, preach, and entertain. They stand up for what’s right. They jump in and take over. They lead and command. They are Girl Scout Leaders and PTA Presidents and Advocates for those in need. They make things happen.
Marys are quiet, introspective, meditative, cautious, and prayerful. They remind us to slow down, smell the roses, and enjoy the little things in life. They are gentle, kind, and compassionate. They work quietly behind the scenes in places like classrooms, St. Vincent de Paul centers, churches, soup kitchens, and emergency services. They typically do as they are told, handmaidens beholden to one’s word.
I know lots of Marthas but only a few Marys. They go by many other names. Some of the Marthas I know are named Rebecca, Cheryl, Susan, and Crystal. Some of the Marys are known as Ronnie, Julie, and even George. And I am blessed to know a few very special women–with names like Alix, Judy, and Anne–who have learned the truth. We all need to be Martha and Mary. We need to work, teach, preach, lead, and make things happen while taking the time to be quiet, to think, to relax, to enjoy, and to pray.
We’ve all heard that there is a season for everything. The song by The Byrds is one of the most popular of all times. It borrows the words from Ecclesiastes to remind us that “there is a time for every purpose under heaven.”
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep…A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together…A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing…A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late
There is a time for each of us to be a Martha and a time for each of us to be a Mary.
A dear friend of mine is the perfect embodiment of both. She is hard working, kind, loving, compassionate, a volunteer, an advocate for those in need, and a deeply prayerful and meditative person. She is embroiled in a battle for her life, and I believe that she will come out the victor because she understands that there are times when we need to lead and times when we need to be led. Her faith in action has always been an inspiration to everyone who knows her, and this time will be no exception. I know that she will fight to survive while taking advantage of this time for prayer and reflection. She will show all of us how to be both Mary and Martha.
A few months ago, the Bible study group that I lead had a discussion about Martha and Mary. One of the women stood up for Martha, saying that sometimes we need the Marthas more than we need the Marys. Even Jesus needed Martha to take charge at one point. After all, while Mary wept over her brother’s body as he lay in the tomb, it was Martha who went in search of the Lord, asking for her brother to be raised. Just when you think Mary has it all figured out, it’s time for Martha to come in and take charge.
I pray that we all learn to know the difference between when we are to called to speak and act and when we’re called to listen and reflect. Knowing the season, and behaving accordingly, could make all the difference in our lives and in our world.
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Just One of the Girls.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.
Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).