Being a Mary in a Martha World

Mary is so humble, anointing Jesus’ feet. Mary is so contemplative. “We should all be like Mary,” I say to myself as I skim the Gospel at rapid speed while listening to a podcast and putting my son’s toys away for the 1000x time today.  I catch myself judging Martha. Doesn’t she realize Jesus is just sitting there, waiting to spend time with her?

Oh. wait. Reality check. When was the last time I chose “the better part” like Mary?

To-do lists. Deadlines. Self-inflicted doubts. Unmet expectations. Comparisons. These false priorities consume 99/9% of my waking thoughts.

I have always been a do-er. I am not one of those people who can sit around all morning, sipping tea with a good book and avocado toast. (Much to the dismay of my husband, who can do this all day!) I thrive in a go-go-go environment. Give me a triple shot of espresso over ice and 10 errands to run and I am SET.

I even find it a struggle to quiet my mind and just sit with our Lord in Adoration. I have to fight the tendency to talk at God the whole time. In silence, my mind wanders every which way. So I often resign myself to praying memorized prayers.

So then I find myself defending Martha because I see so much of myself in her! Poor Martha. So misunderstood. As the oldest of 4 girls, I can definitely attest to similarly tattling on a sister who is sitting on the couch while I cook dinner. I’m so preoccupied with serving everyone. Meeting very present needs, but often too frazzled for my own good.

In learning more about myself through prayer and self-reflection, I have come to peace with the fact that resting is just something that will never come easy for me. I have to actively seek opportunities to hone the art of resting. Furthermore, I have to fight the lie that Satan has fed me for years that resting = laziness.

Our society today idolizes busy-ness, to the point that, when asked how we are, “busy” becomes a valid response. We are all so “busy” doing nothing worthwhile, that, as a result, we are unable to be present to anyone. We have lost the art of leisure. I am talking about true leisure, not scrolling through Instagram for 2 hours (although, sometimes, that is necessary).

But, the great paradox here is that we cannot have Mary without Martha. We cannot appreciate leisure without also understanding the value of hard work. The all-too-familiar passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” It is up to us to discern what season we are called to live in, in every moment.

2-day old dishes in the sink? Maybe not the best time to kick my feet up and binge Netflix.

Our Lord in my living room, waiting to converse with me? I better drop that sponge and sprint to His feet.

That is what being a Mary in a Martha world looks like.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: OR at