“So what if people are coming over. Why can’t we let them see how we usually live?” my children would whine.
“Because it’s how we show guests they’re special,” I’d say, trying to keep my cool. “We do what we can to make things nice for them. Plus it keeps Mommy from wanting TO DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT THAT HER WHOLE ENTIRE FAMILY-AND THAT INCLUDES HER SOMETIMES, DON’T START WITH ME- IS A BUNCH OF SLOBS.” Did my family really think that anyone could enjoy sitting on our couch, snuggled in with stinky soccer cleats and somebody’s balled up attempts at a persuasive essay, tumbleweeds of Tanner’s hair and a cup with a ring of dried milk at the bottom?
Now you probably won’t ever come visit me. It’s not like that anymore, I promise. They’ve all grown up, mostly, and no one plays soccer. Tanner the Slobber Dog still sheds though, so prepare yourself. Bring one of those pet hair rollers.
It used to be that every time I would get ready for our kids at church to learn the story of Jesus’ visit to the sisters, Mary and Martha, I couldn’t help but think about all the cleaning arguments/fights/lectures of my life and all those pleading looks my kids have given their daddy that say COMPANY IS COMING AND MOM IS GOING CRAZY MAKING US CLEAN, PLEASE STOP HER IF YOU HAVE ANY HEART AT ALL.
It’s just that I identify so much with my sister Martha, the one who resented turning the house right side up, cooking up a storm and getting dishpan hands while her sister Mary lollygagged at Jesus’ feet with all the guests, soaking up the wisdom.
That’s what I used to think about, anyway, until I took a long hard look at Jesus’ response to Martha. She pleads, “Lord, make my sister help me,” and what does he do? He turns his focus to his own brand of hospitality to Mary. When we teach the story, we always remind the children that in Jesus’s time, rabbis did not allow women to sit at their feet and study the Torah, to listen and ask questions. Yet Jesus encourages it.