In my daily life right now, I’m good with the Mary part and not so great with the Martha part.
My spiritual life is pretty great, but my house is a disaster, as usual.
Most women tell me the Mary part is hard for them. They struggle to find closeness with God, time to pray, and time to read his word. But for me, the Mary part in Luke 10 has always been a breeze.
The schedule of my life is similar to many other working moms. I’m working 35 hours a week, then another 15 to 20 as a writer. Each week I shuttle my kids to sports practices, church classes, and various activities. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, and cooking fill up most of the other hours.
The Mary part: Early morning Bible study, praying in the car on my commute, reading Christian books, listening to Christian music, having daily faith conversations with friends and family, church every week. Not hard for me—part of my daily rhythm.
Can I confess my junk to you? On my desk right now, where I’m typing, there are several 8” high piles of paper, books, and whatnot. I have to move a stack to the side so my mouse has room to work! Stacks of unsorted papers reside on my laundry room counters, kitchen counter, dining room table, and my bedroom. Dirty dishes cover the counters. Clean laundry sits in the dryer and in a basket in my bedroom. The floor is in a desperate state of disrepair.
Why is my Mary part working and my Martha part broken?
Because I don’t have a system in place.
For my Mary part, every morning as soon as I get up I open my One Year Bible.
Every time I’m alone in the car, I pray or listen to Christian music.
Every day after lunch I have a faith conversation with coworkers.
Every afternoon I read a Christian book in the afternoons while I decompress.
Every night I pray before I go to bed.
The “every time” system is in place in my faith life. When I get to those times of day, I automatically connect to faith.
My “system” for sorting papers? Wait until they are so out-of-control I can’t stand myself anymore, then spend three hours sorting, irritated and self-condemning. The organization lasts for a week or two, then papers begin piling up again and my discouragement and apathy multiply.
My “system” for cleaning the house? Wait until the weekend, when we really need time to relax as a family, and attack with Martha-like verve, exhausting myself.
A better system: Set a timer for 5:00 p.m. That’s my reminder to sort papers for 15 minutes EVERY day while something simmers on the stove.
That’s also my reminder to ask one child to vacuum. Another to put laundry away. Another to help with the dishes. EVERY day, delegate tasks.
Today, I’m making a promise to myself. I will inject some Martha into my daily rhythms. I will set the timer for 5:00 p.m. I will begin conquering my junk with 15 minutes of paper sorting. It may take a week to see a real difference, but I’m going to chip away at this lifelong struggle every day. And in those same 15 minutes with the help of my children, the laundry, dishes, and floor will be under control.
With a little Martha today, my Mary will be more peaceful.
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