Martha and Mary: Clean House, Unbalanced Life?

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Vacuum on wood floor, text says Martha and MaryHappy Friday! I assume that like me, a lot of you sent your kids back to school this week. My daughter is a freshman in high school, and went back to public school after almost two years of homeschooling. Not only that, she is in a totally different school system with all new kids. I definitely had some bittersweet emotions her first day! But, unlike her introverted mother, she is a social butterfly and has already made new friends and seems to really be thriving.

Since she went back to school, I am home alone most days – for the first time in almost two years. This seemed like a great opprotunity to really get my house clean and in order, so I have been spending my days sorting, scrubbing, and – I’ll be honest – I have snuck in a couple of naps.

All this time to myself with nothing but snoozy dogs for company left me a lot of time to think. I started musing about moms and cleaning. I worked outside the home more than full time for many years, but now have cut back to very part time hours, yet I don’t feel like I have time to attend to all the cleaning and upkeep my house needs, let alone writing, volunteering, and playing taxi for my husband and daughter. How did I get it all done when I was working all the time??

I have decided that there are two extreme factions of moms. One side has beautifully furnished homes that look like they were ripped from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog, and the other spends their days posting memes on Facebook that say, “Good moms have dirty ovens and sticky floors,” all while an episode of hoarders is shaping up in their family room. Am I still a good mom if I don’t have sticky floors?

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of Martha and Mary. Jesus came to their house, and while Martha was working her tail off to get dinner ready and clean up the house, Mary sat on her rear-end, just listening to Jesus talk.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling Martha here! I go on a cleaning frenzy when my daughter has a teenage girl over, I can’t imagine trying to prepare for the savior of the world to grace my humble abode. I can see Martha pacing back and forth, peeking her head in the door to see what Mary was doing. Slamming pans down to see if she would take the hint. Finally, she couldn’t take it any more. “Jesus, tell my lazy sister to get off her butt and help me!”

But Jesus sees the whole picture. There is a key phrase we often forget when recounting this story – “You are worried and upset about many things …”

Is it wrong to keep a clean house? No! The Bible speaks pretty strongly against sloth and laziness. But when the endeavor of having a Pottery-Barn-worthy home becomes more important than stopping to watch your little catch the ball for the 57th time, or the production of having guests over is more about the stress of preparation than building realtionships, something is out of balance.

Balance. Man, I hate that word, but it really is so important to maintaining health in so many areas of our lives.

I knew someone who was constantly on Pinterest coming up with strategies to organize her house and keep it clean. Mind you, her house was one of those Hoarder’s episodes in the making that I was talking about. But she pinned THOUSANDS of organizing tips, and spent hours bemoaning the fact that he house was a mess on social media. I just wanted to shake her and be like, “Get off of freaking Pinterest and clean your house then!” There is no balance there.

When themes keep coming up in my life, I take that as a big nudge from God that it’s an area I need to work on. I have been reading the Oola book, and it talks about balance in 7 areas of life – faith, family, finances, fun, fitness, field, and friends. They compare it to plate spinning; when one gets out of balance you need to pay more attention to it and get it back to where it should be.

Are you a Martha or a Mary? Do you have a healthy balance in your home, or are you one of the extremes?

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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is newly single, a mom, soon to be grandma and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.

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