Today, I want to do something different and talk about how my story lines up with the Martha and Mary story in the Bible.
I’ve always identified with Martha, since I’m such a “doer,” but over the last 10 years or so, I’ve realized that I also want to have more “Mary” in me as well! This desire caused a lot of conflict in me, as I found it hard to ignite my heart and have always had a hard time sharing my emotions. Most of the struggle is wrapped up in growing up in a family that didn’t share emotions openly. I got stuck thinking that I had to work hard for approval, therefore, working like Martha seemed like a more logical choice. Logic can be the death of faith! Even though I’ve wanted to express my love more like Mary, I was stuck in proving myself with works. Sadly, that work also led to judging the “Mary’s” in the world and not feeling like they measured up. I now realize that I judged others because I didn’t feel that I measured up.
Believe it or not, I was a sensitive, artistic and musically talented little kid. That identity didn’t line up with the world I lived in, so as a young teenager, I turned to sports to prove my manliness. I was 5 foot nothing and less than 100 pounds, but was determined to prove myself on the football field. I was so tenacious, that I started to get noticed. As a freshman, there were 50 guys on the football team, and 48 guys played in the first scrimmage. Me and one other guy did NOT. He quit. I got more motivated. I spent the year on the bench, but then had a 7-inch, 35-pound growth spirt and the next year became a starter on the JV team. I never was really talented, but my desire carried me all the way to playing college football (as a walk-on) at the University of Buffalo. If anyone knows of the movie, Rudy, that was me.
My identity was formed in the world. I was the overcomer. I carried that identity into my professional life and started my own company at 25, at the same time I started my family and while my wife also worked 60 hour weeks. It was a crazy time, but because I was an “overcomer,” I looked for impossible battles to win, and continued fighting as hard as I could. The Martha identity in me was being strengthened, but in reality, it was pride, arrogance and living out the lie that I needed to prove something to everyone to get affirmation!
Fast forward 25 years, I lost everything, my wife died of brain cancer, my business collapsed and as I looked in the mirror, I didn’t know who I was looking at. I spent a lifetime developing a facade and now realized I was wearing a mask and didn’t know who God made me to be! After losing everything, I was finally open to allow God to show me my identity in Him. He showed up and I really FELT His love for the first time in my life. Over the last 10 years, God continues to mold me into the man He wants me to be. Still a little more Martha than Mary, but I’m happy to say, now I have some of both. In fact, I always had some of both. Even though my gifting leans more toward Martha, I no longer judge the “Marys” of this world and see the value in both. We are all part of God’s “body!” I now see how I can use the gifting of a Martha with the heart of a Mary and be ALL God is calling me to be!
Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “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 away from her.”
So, What… for This Week?
PRAY ABOUT YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST! If you don’t have a healthy sense of identity, you may not accomplish the purpose God has for your life! Our purpose in Christ is our destination, but our gifting is the transportation to get there! It’s OK to be more like Martha or Mary, but it’s NOT OK to judge the one your are NOT. I hope you relate to my story in some way and it encourages you to live, love and lead like Jesus more and more each day!