She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10: 40b)
Well, of course He cares. Jesus cares about this issue because He is concerned about Martha’s character. I’m guessing that the whining tone of her request is an outward expression of what’s in Martha’s heart. Once again, she wants to play the martyr role, exposing her sister’s weaknesses as she comes out like the victim of Mary’s unfair behavior.
Hmmm, yep…been there, done that.
-My husband: “do you need any help?”
-My sons: “do you need any help?”
-Me: “No! I got it!”
A few hours later…
-Me: “Why doesn’t anybody help me around here? Can’t you see how much work there is to do? You guys are so lazy!”
I don’t know why I do this, but it happens quite often in my house. I get some sick satisfaction out of playing the victim’s role, I guess…I mean, sometimes, when I’m tense, doing housework helps me clear my mind, and that’s why I choose to do it myself when I can have someone else do it for me. But so often I must admit, I refuse help because of a subconscious desire to make those around me feel guilty or to get a card that I can hide in my sleeve so I can play the blame-game later and win.
I know, I said it, it is sick…but it is all-too-real. That’s why this portion of verse 40 touches me at such a personal level.
The worst part is that I keep accumulating those blame-cards until one day, when nobody is expecting it, I play them all at once, causing an explosion of whining and guilting others, blindsiding them into a corner where there is not much else for them to do than to sigh in frustration, wondering what’s going on.
Martha took her own frustration to another level. She went to the One she knew could end it with one word. She took the matter to Jesus and begged Him to basically give Mary a reprimand. She wanted Mary to feel humiliated…perhaps, because she was feeling humiliated herself.
Often, the kinds of feelings demonstrated by Martha’s behavior are a reflection of one’s own feelings of inadequacy. I’m not a psychologist, but speaking by personal experience, almost every time I want others to feel guilty is because I am feeling guilty myself and I want others to share that self-deprecating state. I feel guilty because of a misguided sense of inadequacy that warps my self-image, making me see myself as someone not worthy. I see myself as a failure who needs to compensate for her flaws by working harder than anyone around to somehow erase some of the character stains I see in myself. My insecurities lead me to a place of victimhood where the role of a martyr seems way more respectable than the perceived reality of a failure and a fake.
In the meantime, those around me are in the middle of a serious amount of manipulation that takes place to play these charades, leaving them exposed not so much to a game anymore, but rather to a time bomb.
May the Holy Spirit clear our vision and allow us to see through our insecurities to realize that we are more than the sum of our past mistakes. May we see ourselves with renewed eyes so we can finally appreciate who we are once we see ourselves through the eyes of Christ.