Review: Made Like Martha

Martha

Gentle Reader,

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

– Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

I’ve read this passage more times than I know. I’ve heard this passage exegeted from the pulpit more than once. I’ve written about this passage. Always, always the message is this: Jesus was mad at Martha because she didn’t “get it.” Type-A people need to learn how to chill out. Be more like Mary.

That’s how I’ve understood this exchange. I come away feeling bad about myself. Thinking that Jesus must be disappointed in me. Wishing that I could somehow mold myself into a non-task oriented person. Never succeeding in the attempt.

Thus, Made Like Martha by Katie M. Reid was an incredibly freeing book.

Jesus never asked Martha to be Mary, and He didn’t ask you to be either. He simply pointed out that you do not have to serve from a place of striving and worry, because He is already enough for you. He is not holding out on you. We have added words to what Jesus said and compromised parts of who He created us to be in the process. Enough is enough! Pointing out one behavior to improve on is not the same as criticizing the totality of who you are. Let’s stop agreeing with the serpent and others who echo his slippery sentiments.

– p. 12

Can I get a loud, hearty “amen?!”

Throughout my life I’ve been described as “robotic” and “mannish.” Because apparently only robots and men have a “get it done” mindset. (Fairly, some of those comments have been gentle teasing from people who truly know and love me as I am).  Women have to be…what, exactly? Flighty? Oozing emotion 24/7? I have no idea. What I do know that I’ve often believed that something is wrong with me. That it’s bad to be different from a lot of the ladies I know.

Reid declares that the personality I have – the list-making, job-finishing, hard-working, generally no-nonsense (unless it’s in an organized fashion) personality – is exactly the one that God intended to give me. I’m neither robotic nor mannish. I am a woman who reflects the imago dei, exactly as I am.

The message would be incomplete if ended there, however. We Marthas do have a particular struggle that Jesus works to free us from: worry.

…she was so consumed with cares that she forgot the One who is most careful with her. She was so focused on her works that she missed the Worthy One in her midst; Jesus, the water-to-wine miracle worker, the feed-the-five-thousand supernatural provider, the raise-the-dead anointed healer.

Have I, like Martha, overlooked the One who resides in the home of my heart? Has worrying and being overly responsible crippled my faith? Have the what-ifs distracted me from the I AM?

– p. 18

Ouch. And yes. Worry leads me to over-responsibility all the time. In recent years I’ve been better about stepping back and sorting out what is mine to bear and what belongs to another, but it’s a struggle. I want everyone and everything to be okay. If it’s not, that’s my fault. Because I’m the fourth member of the Trinity. Didn’t you know?

It’s good to be a Martha. The world needs women who can get the job done, women who don’t mind rolling up our sleeves. It’s not good for us to stay wrapped up in fear – fear of rejection, fear of being overlooked, fear of letting someone else try. Our value is not based in what we can accomplish in a day or how many committees we sit on. Who we are, our identity, is found in Christ. He has done it all so that we can work and serve out of love, not fear.

Reid has done an excellent job of steering her fellow Marthas toward the deep breath of release. We can trust God to take care of us. It doesn’t have to be “just so” for Him to love us. The moment we cry out to Him in the faith of repentance, He makes His home within our souls – mess and all. We don’t have to strive or seek to impress Him. All that is required is for us to listen, to allow Him to guide our hard work in the jobs that He uniquely designed for us before the creation of the world.

Excellent news indeed.

Whether you are a Martha or you know a Martha (so, everybody), I recommend you read this book. Marthas will feel the knots in their shoulders unwind and non-Marthas will gain valuable insight into their sisters. You might be surprised at how fearful we are. We need you who are able to sit at His feet to remind us that we are safe – and that we are invited to do the same.

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Sketches: Personality

Personality

Gentle Reader,

My eyes are droopy as I type this, not with sleepiness but with crankiness. If you’ve been around here for awhile, then you know that I despise chaos and lack of planning. What you might not know is that I despise micromanaging in equal measure. Both extremes lead to nothing getting done. Creativity and innovation are stifled, people get frustrated and eventually, inevitably, implosion results.

I might hate micromanagement just slightly more than chaos. I freely admit to struggling with respecting authority, but I outright rebel when I don’t have space to do what I need to do. Someone looking over my shoulder, decisions by committee…no thanks.

So, let’s talk: personality. (Prompt submitted by my own brain. Thank you, brain).

MBTI

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has long been a popular personality test. I first took the rest as a senior in high school, as part of…I really don’t remember why. At age 17 I was typed as an Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judger (INTJ), which means that people drain me (even the ones I love) and I need a lot of alone time; I see patterns and make connections, meaning that I can usually predict outcomes; I rely on logic and objective facts when making decisions; and I want the world to be a orderly, structured place. If I were better at math, I’d be tucked away in a lab somewhere, running tests and making discoveries.

Every so often I re-take the MBTI, but the result never changes. Sometimes I wish it would. Those of us who are INTJ possess one of the rarest personality types, and women INTJs are basically unicorns. It can be very difficult to navigate a society that so often operates from a basis of extraversion and emotionalism. It’s next to impossible, some days, to find a natural point of connection with other women and build relationships from there.

Enneagram

This test is fairly new, at least to me. The Enneagram is largely Myers-Briggs with different wording. I’m a 5w4, which is basically the same as INTJ. This type is able to concentrate for long periods of time, developing complex ideas and theories. Emotionally, we are at detached yet high-strung and intense; we don’t like the feels, can’t explain the feels, but still feel the feels and have little to no ability to express them properly. We need to observe, contemplate and learn constantly, or we get into trouble. Cerebral, analytic, private yet curious.

In short: doesn’t play well with others.

Life Languages

One of the requirements for volunteering at the women’s shelter was to take the Life Languages test. This is less focused on personality and deals instead with communication styles. To absolutely nobody’s astonishment, I came out a Contemplator, Shaper, Doer, which means that I think about something, make a plan to address the something, then I do the plan. I respond to people with my head and with actions, skipping the heart entirely. I can thus come across as cold, even judgmental, though my intent is to genuinely help whoever with whatever they are dealing with.

Pause

Personality tests are interesting, even instructive, but they’re not the end-all, be-all. Certainly they should not have spiritual significance attached to them. I’m concerned with all the hype surrounding the Ennegram of late. Taking the test might give us some insight regarding the ways in which we operate, but that’s it. There’s no “secret” here, no ascending some grand staircase to a more “enlightened” plane.

Honestly, what these tests reveal about us is often areas in which we need to be sanctified, because our strengths usually double as our weaknesses. Yes, God made me to be a task-oriented individual who likes to think deeply about a lot of things. This can and should be seen as an asset to the Body, for we all have a role to play, and there are times when the job just needs to be done without fuss or worry about hurt feelings. At the same time, task-orientation can cause me to overlook people who might need me to pause and listen. Thinking deeply can lead to withdrawal and isolation. Being detached from my emotions can and does lead to depression and anxiety, as well as a lack of compassion for and patience with others.

Conclusions

Take the tests, if this kind of thing interests you. I don’t think there’s sin in that. You might learn something useful. Just keep in mind that the best and truest personality profile is found in Scripture. Those pages tell the story of who we all really are. Better yet, they tell the story of the One who transforms us into better than we could ever hope to be on our own.

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For all posts in the Sketches series, go here.

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