I've always read the story differently. I've identified with Martha, trying to get food ready and the house presentable, and thinking her sister Mary would be a help, but actually, her sister ditched her and the work. (Not that my sisters are work ditchers! They are great!) People need to eat, even Jesus did, and if both sisters sat down, who would have been making the food? The work still needs to get done and I can't rest or relax when the to do list is so glaringly undone.
Yesterday I tried so hard to be Mary, to ignore the dirty dishes stacked on the counter, and the cookies cooling on their baking sheets, and the dinner not quite ready to go in the oven, and instead focus on visiting with my husband's Grandmother, who drove hours to come visit us. My mind kept darting back to the work needing to be finished, worrying over how I would get dinner served with NO CLEAN DRINKING GLASSES.
I kept thinking to myself, "Be more like Mary. Set aside the work. Focus on your guests." It was like wearing a Mary suit, one that was so tight and itchy that I was about to go crazy with feeling stifled.
At the end of the day, I decided I will just embrace my Martha-ness. I want the kitchen clean, the food ready, then I can sit down and enjoy my guests. I'm just not cut out to focus on guests, or Jesus, when I have things that need to be done.
Which is why I was washing dishes at the same time I was getting dinner ready to serve. I felt so much better, free-er, putting my work to rights. When I sat down at dinner, I sat down ready to sit at the feet of Jesus....or around the table with family. The Martha in me was satisfied.