One final word on Mary and Martha, and the idea of rest as resistance and it is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn: We need to support our sisters.
In Luke 10:38-42, we find the two sisters diametrically opposed in their approach to a situation. This in itself is not a problem. Black women are not a monolith. We don’t all think the same. We shouldn’t be expected to have the same responses as other black women. The melanin in our skin may inform our way of life, but it doesn’t dictate it. It’s okay for us to disagree. It’s okay for us to approach problems differently.
However, it is not okay to malign one another based on our differences.
Martha is mad in this passage. There she was, running around, trying to make everybody comfortable, and then she gets mad at her sister for actually getting comfortable. But worse than getting mad at her sister, Martha does what so many of us do. She takes her complaint to a third party. Now as a Christian, it is my duty to tell you that I believe taking all your issues to the Lord is a good first step. But in the practice of human relations, even Jesus recommended taking it to your brother (or sister) first. (Matthew 18:15)
But Mary isn’t innocent here either. I have said previously, that Mary’s posture in this situation is admirable. For weeks, I have championed her as the hero in this story. It’s great to be focused on the word of the Lord. It is fantastic to be sitting at his feet. But Mary is so focused on Jesus that she doesn’t even notice that her sister is struggling. Have you heard the phrase “so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good”? Mary’s sister is falling apart and she doesn’t even notice.
How could these two sisters have better supported one another?
Supporting Mary might look like defending her position of rest, as Jesus did, in this passage. It might look like picking up extra duties as Martha did. It might look helping her with the dishes. It might look like taking a kid or two off her hands for a short while so she can enjoy a nap. Supporting Martha might look like saying thank you for her hard work. Or ordering dinner, so she won’t have to cook, on top of everything else she’s already doing. Or it might look like encouraging her to rest a short while, and then providing her the opportunity to do so.
In this, the busiest time of year, how might you support your sisters, The Marys, and the Marthas?