Do you remember the biblical story of Mary and Martha, the two sisters who host Jesus in their home? Martha focuses on preparing and serving the meal, while Mary sits at His feet, listening and learning.
Do you also remember that when Martha says to her Guest — Is it really alright that Mary isn't helping me attend to preparing and serving?, and He responds, Yes, for “Mary hath chosen the good part.”
Painting by Minerva Teichert
As a study in feminine psychology, I find this story intriguing.
We generally consider women to be feminine within the context of a relationship, or when we are giving something (resources or recognition) to someone else.
And yet, this story — which is revered, and believed to be true, by billions of Christians — gives women permission to listen and learn, to find our self. When we consider the historical context (c. 2,000 years ago when women's roles were far more circumscribed), this ‘permission' is even more powerful.
Does this mean that women shouldn't care for and nurture others?
Of course not.
But it does suggest that to develop into our full self we need to do both: say Yes to our relationships (be Martha-like), and Yes to our self (be Mary-like).
What we need more of will depend.
Some of us may need to be a bit more Martha-like.
But if my sample set is any indication, most of us could use a little more Mary.
What about you? Do you tend toward Mary or Martha?
Have you noticed that when we learn to marry Martha and Mary, we are completing Psyche's four tasks, the prototypical female hero's journey?