Monday, January 25, 2016

Martha's Dignity, My Infertility

You could throw a proverbial rock into the Christian interwebs and the chances would be pretty good that you'd hit a blog that teaches women the virtue of how to be a "Mary" in a "Martha" world. It seems to be the *it* thing to write about as a female Christian blogger and you can find just about any of the advice that you are looking for, whether it be in checklist form, countdown form, prose around biblical verses, or some snazzy pin with a pretty graphic.....unless you want to explore the dignity and virtue of Martha.

If you've read Luke 10:38-42, then you know the story. Martha worries about serving, Mary lounges at the Lord's feet. Martha is anxious and seeking for Christ's validation. Mary is carefree and hanging on Christ's every word. No, I'm not a biblical scholar.... thank you for asking! :)

The interesting thing to me though (but that I never read in all these Christian blogs and analyses of Martha/Mary) when people are referencing this story is this: the good of Martha. We focus on what we perceive are Martha's shortcomings or what we perceive are her missteps. And more often, I think we see her as the woman who doesn't find favor with the Lord in those verses. Don't be like Martha is the mantra we're all taught. But by comparing Martha to Mary.... we really don't afford Martha her dignity. As women - and humans - we don't get the luxury of comparison without the consequence of being sinful. We are not all just compilations of our sins... there is dignity imparted onto our souls by God Himself and it is greater than our missteps, failings, and sins. Put more simply, our job isn't to judge Mary or Martha, but that role is left open only to Christ's bailiwick. And what does He do when the opportunity to judge and compare is upon Him? He does neither.

I feel like infertility has taught me a lot about Martha. Infertility taught me to eagerly welcome Christ... just like Martha. Infertility reminds me of all the worries and anxieties that I possess.... much like Martha. And maybe most poignantly, the path to and through infertility reminds me of the intense feeling that I've been denied by Christ. But that isn't really what Christ did, is it?

Martha served Christ...freely, enthusiastically, and seeking favor. Even when what seemed most important to her was not granted, I believe Christ's exact words in that passage afford her dignity more than they point to someone else being more virtuous. His careful words address her worry directly as a balm and He focuses on what she needs in light of what she wants. We should all be thankful for that kind of attention, right? Notice that Christ's words don't actually offer a comparison of the sisters. It's a powerful passage to reflect on, if you look at it from that vantage point and reread His actual words carefully. He certainly could have compared them, but look at what He did instead.

Let me never judge anyone who enthusiastically seeks to serve the Lord for any reason. Let me focus more on what Christ says to me alone. And if I feel denied in my request when I feel unfairly left alone to carry what I see as the heavier burden, let me remember the tenderness with which Christ will speak to me if I seek His Will. I get there by recognizing the good of Martha, not by comparing her to anyone. And maybe there is something to that cartoon I drew a couple years ago after all....


  1. This is a very interesting perspective. And I'm not sure if I saw that cartoon when you drew it, but my immediate thought in reference to God's plan was, "Ooh! That looks kind of fun!" Which I know is not the point, but I guess the way I see things now is that physical obstacles really are fun and rewarding, so it was a much needed reminder to me that spiritual ones help us learn and grow, too, even when they are really, really difficult.

    1. Thanks! And yes, I have also looked at the obstacle course as "fun" in certain parts of my life. But replace that pile of babies with what you want most for yourself that seems out of reach... and that was what motivated me to make that cartoon originally. I do think there is a way to travel the crocodile-laden path with joy though.

      What really struck me when I reread Martha/Mary in the bible (and I read as many translations as I could find on it), is that people seem to interpret Christ's words as saying something they didn't literally say. I'm sure it's open to context and interpretation how biblical scholars gave us the footnotes and created the original view by which we "learn a lesson" about Martha, but the more I read Christ's words over and over... the more this passage started to transform in meaning to me.

      I'm grateful anyone read my thoughts after such a long time of being away from posting something other than the monthly prayer campaign! Hope you are well, friend.