Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Want to Be a Mary Mother but My Name is Martha

by Danetta Kellar

I saw the sticky notes while she was still sleeping in a soft pile of pink ruffled pillows. 

Finish my Lego set today. Play the piano for Daddy. Make a school room for my doll. Color a picture for Mommy. The white notes were plastered across her bookcase like little snowflakes stuck on a windowpane. Just by her head, so she would see them first thing in the morning.

My little planner is very busy. She loves to build things, gather people together, and write books. She talks about Laura and Mary like they are her sisters and wonders aloud what it would look like if her room were a loft in a Little House on the Prairie.

She is watching me, and listening. 

I can hear myself in her, see myself in her, and watch myself in her. If I am not careful, if I do not slow down soon, she will have learned very well from me how to go and go and go, to do and do and do, making list after list after list, faster and faster, until she is all grown up and I am left wishing I had shown her how to slow down and sit awhile.

Maybe it is because I am a relatively old mama of a seven-year old. Most friends my age have college kids or high-school-seniors. My girl came last of six babies, only the third to arrive in my arms whole and alive. So, so alive.

Maybe it is because I am watching the older two grow out of my embrace and into bodies taller and stronger than my own. But whatever it is, I have stopped to take my measure as a mother. And the familiar story of Mary and Martha took an entirely different form for me yesterday. 

Typically I have used that story to bash myself for being busy and complaining instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet dreamily letting the dishes pile up and the turkey burn in the oven. (I admit my self-inflicted interpretation is not exactly sound.)

Not this time. God’s Word is living and active, and filled with His Spirit. New life is always pouring out of those well-worn passages, making the stale soul fresh with life. 

I was lying in bed, wishing to disappear into the temporary bliss of sleep. The longer I lay there, the more my heart thrummed and hummed like the sound our old lantern used to make in Kenya when the kerosene flame was turned up just too high. 

Exasperated, I leapt out of bed and asked the Lord aloud, What is it, Lord? I have been having conversations with Him long enough to know His voice now, especially in the stillness of night.

I opened my Bible, the best place for hearing Him exactly, and He took me to the words, “only one thing is needful.” (Luke 10:42) 

I had never thought of Mary and Martha’s examples in the context of mothering. But God’s tender admonishment was clear to me in the quietness of the house, with the soft rain falling gently outside like grace.

I admit that I have been more like Martha than Mary in my flurrying about. 

There is just so much to do, Lord! I wish I lived at Downton Abbey, where I would mother my children while servants did every last thing else. But in the real world in which I live, I must try to be graceful and loving while cleaning a continually chaotic house, doing endless loads of laundry, teaching my children, caring for all He brings into our home, showing hospitality and cooking for crowds, writing, working, the list is endless! Not to mention being sure my very loving husband does not get the leftovers of my energy and time.

I do not want to pass the striving, the exhausting, never-finished to-do-list way of life to my daughter, to make her believe by my example that this is the way of a woman. 

I do not want her to slave away to achieve the fickle approval of people. I do not want her to agonize over her appearance, worrying every time she eats chocolate. I do not want exercise to be slavery for her. I do not want her to spend every vacation cleaning her house.

I do not want my daughter to believe for a minute that she is capable of being all things to all people. That she does not desperately, wonderfully, need Christ in all things.

It would seem God has given me an impossible task. How delightful! For that must mean He will do it in me, for He is the God of the Impossible. The fact that He has pressed it on my heart in the still of the night so clearly must be an implicit sign that He intends to work in this area I find so impossible to change on my own.

So I rejoice and anticipate. 

I want to be a Mary mother. 

Do the cries of my mother heart resonate with you, dear reader? Do you wish to be a Mary mother? Join me this new year as I learn to sit at His feet in my mothering and listen to everything He says. May we look up soon and see our children sitting beside us in that one needful thing.

What changes can we make to become Mary mothers? Please join the conversation in the comments section below, or if you are a subscriber, visit this site in your web browser and leave your comments at the bottom of today's post. 


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