They blossomed into who God created them to be, our Biblical sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany. Jesus didn’t force them to become who they weren’t. He accepted these women for who they were, and encouraged them to grow into their personalities, gifts, abilities, preferences.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? In Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone I describe the difference between the two personality types. I’m an introvert like Mary of Bethany; we get our energy from being alone or sitting at the feet of Jesus. My friend Carol is an extrovert like Martha; they get their energy from entertaining people at home, being in crowds, and staying busy.
I didn’t realize until I wrote Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back that Jesus never once told Martha to change! Rather, He encouraged both Martha and Mary to grow into who they were. This article is a glimpse into Chapter Six of my book (the chapter is called Growing Roots with Martha and Mary). In it, I share what it was like to be the black sheep of the family. I felt like an outsider all my life. I still do, in fact.
Do you feel like an outsider in your own family? Maybe you don’t fit in at work or in your social group. Maybe you don’t fit in with other Christians. A “She Blossoms” reader emailed me recently, asking for help feeling like she belonged at church. I asked my Facebook Group for tips and wrote When You Don’t Fit In at Your Church to give her ideas.
Not feeling like you belong isn’t a new phenomenon! Take Martha and Mary: Martha is known for being practical and preoccupied with preparing the comforts of home and food for her houseguests. Her sister Mary was the opposite. She sat learning at Jesus’ feet—which was unusual and even scandalous for women in those days. She opened her heart and absorbed every moment with Him.
These sisters chose to spend their time and energy differently because they had unique personalities, abilities, and gifts. They expressed their love for Jesus in different ways.
The problem was that Martha wanted Mary to care about the things she, Martha, cared about. For example, she wanted Mary to serve but didn’t ask for help. Perhaps she already knew the response: “I’ll be there soon,” or “Yes, the minute Jesus leaves.” Martha knew Mary wouldn’t—or couldn’t—change.
So Martha approached the only person who could change Mary. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
But Jesus didn’t tell Mary to be more like her sister. He didn’t urge her to conform to Martha’s or anyone else’s expectations. Instead, He accepted Mary for who she was. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed, only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Jesus also accepted Martha for who she was, telling her the truth and letting her decide for herself.
Jesus loved both Martha and Mary unconditionally. He encouraged both women to blossom into who God created them to be. And He gives us the same gift of love and acceptance.
Blossoming Into Me – Laurie’s Story
When I read my childhood diaries, I remember how hard it was to live with a schizophrenic mother. The hospitalizations, shock treatments, and antipsychotic medications didn’t heal her. Sometimes they helped, but she didn’t like the uncomfortable, often painful side effects. My mom also didn’t like feeling “spaced out,” like she was moving through cotton. So she’d stop taking her pills, and the hallucinations and nervous breakdowns would return. This cycle lasted for decades, destroying the fabric of her mind and body.
I prayed my mom would get better, but God never healed her. Living with a mentally ill, emotionally abusive mother destroyed my self-esteem and self-image. I wasn’t angry, nor did I stop believing in Him. I just didn’t think He cared. I thought I didn’t matter to Him or anyone.
God never cured my mom’s schizophrenia, but He healed my relationship with her. Sometimes Jesus doesn’t heal what we want to be healed, but what needs to be healed. I wanted Him to heal my mom’s brain. Instead, He healed my heart. And Jesus helped me Blossom into who He created me to be.
Are you living with an unhealthy or even abusive mother or father? Read 9 Ways to Survive Abusive Parents When You Can’t Leave Home.
Maybe you’re struggling with a negative self-image. Or, maybe you just don’t know how to blossom into who God created you to be! You are not alone. I wrote Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back to help you through the most confusing, unexpected seasons of your life.
Every chapter has five different Blossom Tips and five questions. I invite my readers to come here and share their thoughts. This article—Blossoming With Martha and Mary—is specifically for readers who want to share their thoughts on my questions in Chapter Six.
Whether or not you have your own copy of Growing Forward, you’re welcome to share your thoughts about anything in the comments section below.
If you have a copy of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back, tell me which Blossom Tip you tried and how it worked for you.
Questions for Journaling and Discussion
Here are the questions in Chapter Six: Growing Roots with Martha and Mary.
- The Promise: Which of God’s promises resonate with you? How has He answered them…or are you still waiting?
- On the Mend: How do you feel about talking to a counselor? If youe sought counseling in the past, what were the benefits and drawbacks?
- Bittersweet: Would you describe your life as a woven tapestry or a car wreck? What could you weave, knit, make, or bake to symbolize your life in the Weaver’s hands?
- Uphill Backward: How often do you surprise your body by exercising, moving, or stretching in different ways? What does your body need: rest or sweat, pampering or pushing?
- Fill in the Blanks: What benefits have emerged from your loss or pain? How do you feel about celebrating the blessings that arise after loss?
Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below!