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When do you feel the need to control?

This week we hear the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters that welcome Jesus (and presumably his disciples) into their home on his way to Jerusalem. In the story Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to him teach while Martha takes care of everyone. Martha, though, is distracted, anxious, and annoyed. After watching Mary sit on the ground while she works hard taking care of everyone she finally interrupts Jesus to get him to make Mary help her. "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." Jesus, though, does not speak to Mary on Martha's behalf, but instead turns to Martha and says, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."

While this can easily come across as a shaming story for Martha, it is instead a reminder of what can happen to us when we go about our lives anxious and distracted. Rather than shaming Martha, what Jesus is doing here is inviting her to change how she is doing what she is doing rather than what she is doing. He doesn't tell her to sit down next to Mary, but invites her to be present like Mary in her caretaking. What Martha shows us is that no matter what we are doing, if we are feeling anxious and distracted we are going to lash out and try to control others as a way of releasing our own discomfort. What Jesus invites Martha to do is not copy Mary, but to see that Mary is not the cause of her problems, and that controlling Mary is not going to be the solution either. Instead he invites her to presence, and to an awareness of how she is doing what she is doing. This week pay attention to when you are feeling the need to control people or situations in your life. Let those moment, like this one was for Martha, be an invitation to self-awareness and to presence. Who/what are the people/practices that help you feel less anxious or distracted?

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