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Oh you guys, you are in for such a treat today! My dear friend Katie Reid wrote a book for all of us who are the doers. The women who like to get things done. We’re the checklist making, school party cupcakes at midnight baking, early morning before the rest of the family gets up waking, meals delivered to everyone in need taking, no rules breaking women…and we’re tired. Tired of all of the striving. But we’re also conflicted about how to marry our natural inclinations for doing with the call of receiving.
Based on the story of the time Jesus spent with Martha and Mary (Luke 10), in her newly released book, Made Like Martha, Katie beautifully captures this tension and offers an empathetic perspective, biblical truths and practical steps we can take to lead us to discovering the freedom to be who God created us to be.
And this week I’m SO thrilled to be helping her kick-off her mobile book club! If you haven’t had a chance to get the book, Katie has graciously provided all of chapter one for you for FREE! Just click here to begin reading.
In the summer of 1981, my parents moved us from Springfield, MO to Los Angeles, CA. At the time, my aunt and uncle were pastoring a church called the ‘Beach Fellowship’ and we began attending. Now, it wasn’t called that because it was simply close in proximity to the beach. No, this church literally gathered ON the beach. We went from wearing patent leather mary jane shoes in the ‘Bible belt’ to wearing swimsuits and flip-flops in the sand. To say this was quite a transition is the grossest of gross understatements.
The Sunday school class for my age group was held in a VW bus. Yep. I can’t say that I missed wearing itchy tights to church but even at 5 years old I knew I preferred the comfort of an air-conditioned room at Central Assembly of God to a hot, cramped van even if it was fun to pretend that I was one of ‘Charlie’s Angels’.
Out of all of the lessons I learned in the Beach Fellowship Sunday School class, the one that stands out the most didn’t involve a Bible story brought to life by a flannelgraph board. No, it happened during prayer time.
There I sat on the long, bench-like seat at the back of the van with the other kids, hands folded, eyes closed, trying so hard to focus on God. But, as the teacher began praying, my mind began wandering. And as my mind began wandering, my eyes opened and I looked around to see what everyone else was doing. That’s when I noticed another child also had her eyes opened and I quickly closed my own eyes again and waited for the prayer to be over.
Then our teacher asked us what we had learned during the prayer or if we had felt God speaking to us in any way. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it must have had something to do with the inside of the van (maybe the ugly drapes?). I do know that my prayer observation did not fly under the Sunday School teacher’s radar because she quickly responded, “Now, Vanessa, how would you have noticed that unless you had your eyes open during the prayer.” Caught. I was caught. I had broken some kind of cardinal rule of prayer by having my eyes open and looking around. The wave of shame and embarrassment that flooded over me rendered me speechless and all I could do was put my head down and count the minutes until I was released from my VW bus prison.
Why couldn’t I do what I was supposed to do? Me, the ultimate rule follower, had broken some kind of mysterious rule about prayer. Why was I so easily distracted? Why couldn’t I just sit still and think high and lofty thoughts about God?
Now, as an adult, it makes me furious to think back to that moment in time and how wrong that Sunday School teacher got it. Five year olds aren’t known for their ability to sit quietly with their eyes closed for an extended period of time.
But, what makes me even more disheartened is that it began to lay a foundation upon which was built a lifetime of feeling like there was something wrong with me. The enemy of my soul really messed with me for many years. On the one side, I got caught up in the vicious cycle of striving. Do more…work more…be more. There wasn’t a meal train I didn’t sign up for.
And, on the other side, I looked over at the people who were so content to just ‘be’. Not only did they not feel the pressure to sign up for every, single meal train, they didn’t even feel one bit of guilt about it. This was so baffling to me. I saw their Facebook posts where they talked about getting away all by themselves for a weekend of rest and worship. I watched as they so easily let things go.
I had sort of a spiritual schizophrenia going on. My innate ‘Martha-ness’ very much competing with what I was certain was the better way to be. The ‘Mary’ way.
These words from Katie in chapter one of ‘Made Like Martha’ so perfectly capture this struggle and the offer of freedom extended to us by our loving Father.
“I didn’t choose to be a doer. I was designed to be one. This temperament-this nature-is here to stay. It’s not to be erased but rather to be celebrated and used for God’s glory. Just because we are designed to do doesn’t mean we are inferior or superior to Mary types.”
If I could go back in time, I would tell that little girl sitting in the VW bus that it’s ok that she opened her eyes and looked around during the prayer. It’s ok that her natural tendencies are towards doing. It’s ok that her mind wanders a bit when she’s trying so hard to focus on God and that it doesn’t mean she loves Him less than the girl next to her who seems so fully in the moment.
Perhaps if that girl had understood that there isn’t a ‘better than’ when it comes to Mary or Martha, she would have been spared a lot of heartache and confusion. And perhaps, she would have learned much sooner (maybe even before she turned 40!) that she could embrace her ‘Martha-ness’ in a way that would allow her to serve the Lord from a place of freedom and peace and that this would be the best feeling ever.
So, for all of you who are constantly striving and trying and doing…are you ready to experience that freedom? Because throughout the coming weeks of this book club you will be taken on a journey that will have you embracing the way you were created as you learn how to use your giftings to honor God and experience the kind of rest that your soul is craving.
Katie and I want to extend an invitation for you to join the ‘Made Like Martha’ Sisterhood Facebook group where we will be having ongoing conversations about the themes of the book and just supporting and encouraging each other on our individual journeys.
AND there is so much more in store for you in the coming weeks as the book club continues and we hear from these amazing women who will be sharing their own stories of how being ‘Made Like Martha’ has impacted their lives. I think it’s safe to say that probably no one else had Sunday School in a VW bus.
Now, how about a little bit of dialogue? Katie and I would love to talk with you about how you see yourself in the story of Mary and Martha so let’s dig into the following question.
Week One Discussion Question:
- Have you ever felt that there was a flaw in the way that you were created? What would it look like in your life to experience freedom in the areas where you are struggling to feel confident in the way that your Heavenly Father has created and gifted you?
I can’t wait to hear from you and I’m so glad you choose to meet me here today!