Squelching Our Inner Martha This Christmas

Messages encouraging us to slow down this Christmas  abound, but without a game plan and the courage to follow through, those inspiring posts and articles lead to little more than guilt. We know we need to focus on what’s truly important and most fills our heart and soul … but how? It’s one thing to desire–and even choose–simplicity; it’s another matter entirely to put our plans to action.

Change, especially when it comes to long held traditions and family expectations, requires courage.

(Insert background melody: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year)

It’s the most stressful time of the year
With kids fighting and yelling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most stressful time of the year

It’s the bus-busyest season of all
With the holiday shopping and mass-event hopping
And you must do it all
It’s the bus-busyest season of all

~ ~ ~

Did that song resonate with you? Do you feel so squeezed by all the expectations and obligations surrounding Christmas that you’ve lost the ability to think straight?

It’s hard to say no.

You may have heard the Mary and Martha story. Martha was a stressed out matron of the home who liked to throw perfect dinner parties, and Mary was the spiritual one—the girl who sat at the feet of Jesus—in the middle of said dinner party.

woman setting table

Photo by Simple from Unsplash

How many of you have hosted an important dinner? I have a few times. Now my husband begs me to order pizza.

Picture chaos, burned (or undercooked) food, and a massive mess. Always. Had I been serving Jesus, the Savior of the world, I probably would’ve had a major meltdown. He’s the last Person I’d want to serve hard potatoes and undercooked roast to!

Martha and I could’ve been twinsies, except we’d probably give each other a migraine. Too often, I allow my desire for perfection (eh, hem. pride) to overshadow what’s truly important. And everything turns ugly.

This certainly seems to be the case for Martha. I picture her as being quite passive aggressive—stomping about, clanking dishes, sighing every couple minutes while shooting Mary the stink eye.

Only Mary wasn’t paying any attention. She was too busy enjoying the special gift God had given her—His presence.

Although, she, and all their guests, must’ve heard Martha’s fuming. But Mary chose to ignore it.

Think about that for a minute. Mary chose to ignore the drama and do what she knew she needed to do.

Make no mistake, this took courage. You’ve probably been there—stuck in a situation where you knew what you wanted and needed to do, but were surrounded by others who acted as if you’re efforts or choice was lazy, irresponsible, or manipulative.

If we’re not careful, we can easily turn into Martyr Marthas, feeding our negative thinking and fueling our frustrations until we verbally explode.

This is precisely how I envision Martha acting–trudging about her kitchen, glaring at her sister, growing all the more irritable, until she’d had enough. Couldn’t anyone see how hard she was working, and how hard her sister wasn’t? Wanting to make sure they—Jesus especially—were fully aware of Mary’s poor behavior, she confronted the issue head-on, in front of all the guests.

“She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to You that my sister just sits there while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me,’” (Luke 10:40, NLT).

Imagine Mary’s humiliation—to be called out in front of all their guests. So how’d she respond? Did she hurry to do what Martha wanted? Argue with her? Nope. She let Jesus take care of the situation, and He did. He said, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42, NLT).

Image of candle and background lights with text: there's only one gift that will leave us fulfilledIt’s easy to get caught up in all the details, especially during the holidays. Unless we take control of our schedules, we can become “worried and upset,” otherwise known as totally stressed out, and rob ourselves of the gift of God’s presence. But we are in control of us, and we get to decide what our Christmas looks like.

This holiday, we can approach it one of two ways. We can get so worked up over all the details, or we can create the kind of Christmas we and our families need, the kind that’s centered around Christ.

Let’s talk about this. Whenever I feel the need to make changes, especially if those changes impact others, I’m hesitant. It can take courage to change a tradition, or cut back on family commitments, perhaps to turn down invitations. But God calls us to please Him first. How can focusing on Him give us courage to put Him first? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive free, inspirational content (and recipes and craft how-tos) sent directly to your inbox. Subscribers also receive a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (sent separately). You can sign up HERE. And, for added fun, you can snatch Breaking Free and When Dawn Breaks for half off–with free shipping! Grab a copy for yourself or the book lovers on your list!

I also invite you to pop on over to my blog on Crosswalk to read about the unlikely Christmas cast and what it revealed regarding the heart of God. You can read it HERE.

*Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Pubilishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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