5.17.2011

Mary and Martha

Thanks so much for all your congratulations! I am really excited. I am going to live with my sister in Boston and we are already planning the fun things we can do. She works at the Harvard Business School, so I think I will go to work with her sometimes and just hang out at Harvard... super cool!

Speaking of Emily, I am living in her old apartment currently. At my parent's house, they have a lovely little two story apartment that is attached to the side. When my dad was working from home, they built this attachment for him and his employees. But they expanded a few years ago and now have a bigger office in downtown Alpine. So my parents put in our old oven, cabinets, and even our ancient trash compactor in the basement so that there is a real kitchen.  Emily was the last one to live here before I moved in so it still has most of her stuff. She has a lot of books.  There is a bookshelf with lots of church books. I started a few but just wasn't getting into them, until I picked up one called "Mary, Martha, and Me" by Camille Fronk Olson. I am loving it.

image from here

The author talks about the Mary and Martha story when the Savior came to their home in Bethany. We often think that being really busy and getting a lot done is really good and we shouldn't be idle and we have no time to ponder...  but the author talks about how her grandma was always like that. She was always filing her time with so many good things, always serving others, always baking a casserole for someone. She was a seamstress, gardener, cook, quilter, laundress, and always attacked scores of domestic projects. She even had this silent competition with her neighbor over who could get the laundry done the fastest in the morning. Her mom remembers once her mom woke up so early and worked so fast that she had the laundry ready to hang on the line at 5:30 am on a Monday morning, but to her shock the neighbor already had hers hanging on the line. She even remembers her mom starting a load on Saturday night so that she could get it done earlier, just for this little competition. 
Now I certainly don't care when my laundry is done or how it compares to someone else's, but I do have other things that are like silent competition in my head. The author talks about competitively comparing our abilities, possessions, and even temperaments. She said, "They have a newer car, we have a bigger yard, she requires less sleep, he has more stamina, he is more patient, she is more knowledgable... or she can do the laundry faster." Even by the tone of voice we can tell what someone thinks is better. I paid particular attention to this chapter because our lesson was on pure charity the other day and how to stop judging and just let the love flow. 
Here's the author's examples: 
"She's a working mother, but I chose to stay home with my kids."
"I'm getting an education, so I can be a better mother to my kids."
"He is still pursuing college degrees, but he should be working to provide and save for his family." 
"He is in a dead-end job because he dropped out of school; I wanted my family to be well cared for, so we sacrificed for many years so I could get the best education."



She also quoted this woman who made a comment at a lecture she spoke at:
"After hearing you, I felt discouraged because I will never know the scriptures as well. But then I thought, instead of going to school, I chose to follow the prophet- I married and had a family."
I think the author was pretty ticked by this comment, but she cushioned it very nicely. 

It is so easy to say that one way of doing something is "more righteous" or "better." She said that when we see the differences between Mary and Martha's approaches to their time with the Savior, it may be easy to say one of them is "better" than the other, just as we always do with other things, other people, other situations. But with this extrordinaire grandma she had, it seems like she fits into the perfect Relief Society mother, but she seems more like a Martha. But maybe we are getting mixed messages because it seems like we ought to be more like Mary, and take time to rest and be. 


from Gospel Art Book lds.org

The author never saw her grandma with her scriptures or talking about doctrine, etc. But that doesn't mean she (a Martha personality) would be second to Mary. She said that in the church we sometimes say oh Mary chose the better part. 
But that is not what Christ said. He said, "One thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part." The author says the "one needful thing" is having Jesus Christ in our life. It doesn't matter what our life looks like and how we fill our time, but it's how we use the influence of Jesus Christ to determine WHAT we should do and WHEN we should do it. Because for me, that is the hard part. I know all the good things- I know what is black, white, and grey. But I just don't know who I should be focusing on when or what I should fill my time with in what order. But as long as I commune with the Spirit often, I feel in control and not so confused with all there is that I could be doing. 
It's been a good reminder. 
What a great book.
How awesome is it that people gain insight and then share it in a book?
I love that we have books for that reason.  Anyway, I highly recommend it. Sorry my thoughts are so jumbled. It's been a great read. 
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