In the story of Mary and Martha Jesus and His disciples come to their home for dinner. Martha rushes around ensuring everything is in order, and then complains to Jesus that her sister isn’t helping her, all while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet while He speaks.
Martha often gets a bad rap in this story because she is bustling around not being present while Jesus is in their home. Martha struggles with perfectionism as do a lot of women, so we can easily relate to Martha’s desire. She wants all of the preparations and the dinner itself to be perfect. After all she is in the presence of the Son of God, in her very own home. When we have company over, we too want everything done a certain way. A perfect way.
Mary is often applauded in this story, even Jesus commends her because she “gets it.” She knows the value of being present and is able to truly enjoy the company of her Savior.
I can honestly say I would love to always host like Mary, but I can certainly relate so much to Martha and feel it is important to embrace what she was trying to accomplish, and perhaps learn from her.
She knew who she had in her home. Perhaps she didn’t have His arrival planned on her calendar for weeks prior, but she wanted so badly for Him to feel welcome and cherished while in her home. So she prepared, she cooked, she fretted. Sound familiar? If you enjoy hosting friends and family for Thanksgiving or a Christmas cookie party, you know the feeling all the too well. Stress and the sense of hustle and bustle that commences usually until the last minute, and in some cases once your guests have already arrived.
I love how Jesus responds to Martha’s complaint that her sister isn’t helping. I can almost hear myself asking, “Lord, dont you care that my sister has left me to do the work myself? Tell her to help me.” It makes me laugh actually “Tell her to help me!” Oh Martha, I see so much of myself in you.
But, Jesus doesn’t do what she asks, instead He teaches her a valuable lesson that we can all learn from. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,” (put your own name in there, how many times do we get worried and upset because we forgot to clean the flatware and people will arrive in 10 minutes, or we overcooked the rolls?) “But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” She chose Jesus. She chose fellowship. She chose to be present.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to host a beautiful get-together, or the desire for everything to be a certain way. But, when we strive for perfectionism or forget to let certain things go that didn’t get done we miss the opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of those we love.
Here are a few tips to host like Martha, but stay present like Mary this holiday season.
- Prepare. Odds are you have certain hosting opportunities already on your calendar weeks ahead of time. Don’t want until the last minute to begin cleaning and cooking. What can be done ahead of time the week prior, 2 days prior? Make sure you are not attempting to do everything the day of.
- Ask for help. If budget allows hire outside help to clean your home so that is one less thing you can worry about. If budget doesn’t allow, ask for help. Ask a friend or family member a couple days before your event to help you clean.
- Prep-work. Can you assemble a casserole the night before and put it in the fridge so all you have to do the day of is put it in the oven? Can you make cookie dough the day before and put it in the fridge so the day of you just bake the cookies? There is usually plenty of prep-work that can be done ahead of time to lighten the load the day of your event.
- Let perfectionism go. It will rob you of truly enjoying the time with those special to you, as you will be far more focused on what didn’t get done or still running around even when your guests arrive.
- Pray. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be with you while you are getting ready, and then ultimately to be able to enjoy your dinner or gathering once it begins.
- Give yourself holiday grace. If you really wanted to get that one thing cleaned (even though no one will notice it) or you smooth ran out of time to get A, B, or C done. In the words of Queen Else, “Let it go.” (We have a two year old!) Give yourself a dose of holiday grace by knowing you did your best and most likely you are literally the only person who knows what didn’t get accomplished. Enjoy the atmosphere of having friends and family around you. Notice the sparkle in their eyes, and be present with them.
Are you hosting any get togethers this holiday season?! What are you most excited about hosting? Don’t forget to give yourself some holiday grace in between all the festivities!