When I was a child, I thought of Christmas as the best time of the year, and as I move into adulthood, I would still venture to say that this season is my favorite (though I still am a sucker for fall!). I love the parties, the food, the togetherness, the Christmas tree, and yes, of course, the gifts.
But, another part of moving into adulthood is becoming acutely aware that, though those things are amazing, fun, joyful, and a part of Christmas, all of those things are so stressful.
It seems, to me at least, that Christmas this year in particular is a hectic season for the majority of us. Even more, it’s as though people will load up their holiday guns and hold you at ransom with “HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON” and expect that to be sufficient to take the stress off of your plate.
However, if you have ever dealt with a person who is stressed, I think that we can agree that simply shouting “FOCUS ON JESUS” in their face really doesn’t work.
I’m working through the Gospel of Luke right now, and I came upon a pair of sisters who would have a different viewpoint from one another, particularly when it comes to get-togethers and celebrations.
Now, I know that you probably don’t have siblings you are really different from, but if you can imagine this scene for a minute, I think you can get a pretty good feel for this situation.
Jesus, affectionately monikered JC, is kicking back discussing some truth in a very informal setting. Imagine him laid back in an Easy-Boy, feet kicked up, enjoying life. Mary is sitting near him, listening to what he says. She’s taking it all in, ruminating in it, while her sibling paces, traces, and retraces her step.
Martha is a fixer. We get her.
A little bit of a character file on both of them:
- Self-Declared fixer
- Notices if her wreath is slightly askew and will tweak it to just the right angle
- Takes her several tries to get that Instagram picture JUST right
- Wears matching pajamas to bed
- Thinks about her Instagram caption hours before taking the picture
- Has perfect penmanship
- Cooks great food
- Makes sure everyone’s tea glass is never empty.
- A bit of a free spirit
- Will usually be late to various events
- Didn’t even know they were having a party until 30 minutes before.
- Smart as a whip, but a little loopy
- Has been called (mainly by Martha) a bit lazy
- Has a great heart
- Doesn’t shower for days on end and says her dry shampoo will carry her through
- Through it all, will not be disturbed by the fact that she isn’t disturbed.
- Loves when Martha is wrong
Excuse my imagination, but that is just the way I see these two. Now, here is the thing- both sisters have good qualities. If no one remembers that people are coming over, there will be no food at the party. That’s important stuff!
But it’s not the main thing.
The Bible says, “But Martha was distracted with much serving.” The pivotal word in this verse?
Like Martha, we are distracted by so many things- technology, parties, friends, family, food, chores, putting on a good front.
It is a beautiful thing to throw a nice party, have the best food, decorate the prettiest house, have the most holiday-esque pictures on Instagram, but that is exhausting.
Do you ever just, hypothetically, wish you could be a Mary? Wish you could be a little imperfect and not worry about it? Be a little less stressed out?
I would venture to say that we all have a bit of Martha in us, but we want to be more like Mary.
If we have weaknesses (I’m sure you don’t, but I have a ton), they will be exposed by the holidays. The stress and the demands of this time of year are numerous, and they weigh and press on those sensitive spots that lurk just below the surface any other day of the year. We can cover them up normally, but this time of year, they boil over.
But I want to focus on Jesus’ reply: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
In that moment, JC tells Marth and all of us today that the “good part” is not that standard of excellence or perfection or acceptance that we place on ourselves. Have you ever noticed that? Our “perfection,” our “good enough” is constantly taken away from us.
How? Because the standard changes. All the time.
Let me ask you this: That perfect gift you got for your kid three years ago. Would it be perfect by your standards now?
That perfect outfit you bought for the holidays three years ago. Do you still wear it all the time? Is it perfect by your standards now?
That Instagram picture?
Those house decorations?
That recipe? (Okay, I’m getting into trouble. There are some classics.)
I could go on and on. The standard of perfection changes all the time.
But, the good news is that JC says there is one thing “which will not be taken away.”
The thing “which will not be taken away” is His Presence in the midst of the presents.
He is here.
Can you believe this?
The point of Christmas is that He. Is. Here. He was here 2000 years ago. He is here today.
You are not facing the holidays alone. There is One who sees you and treasures you, and he doesn’t even have to try your holiday sugar cookies.
If your Christmas seems like a whirlwind, my hope is that this statement will be the rope you can cling to this season.
I’m not going to demand that you stop your stressing because I know the human heart doesn’t go from Level Martha to Level Mary at the drop of a hat. But, what I will say is this: Jesus is gently calling you to sit at His feet because His presence doesn’t change over the years.
We may change, but, much like the sun we rotate around, he stays stationary.
There is so much left to say, so I’ll be looking more in depth into these sisters and what it means to spend a Christmas as a Mary versus rocking around the Christmas tree as a Martha. This is a part one of a two-part post, so hang in there.