In the dialogue surrounding the Convergence conference, one theme that has come up is the intense pressure we women face to measure up to the ideal. Jamie shared how she doesn’t feel that she fits the stereotype of a Christian woman because she is just “too much.” This is a message we receive a lot as women – that we are too much and not enough all at the same time.
We’re too emotional, too needy, too opinionated, too demanding, we talk too much, we expect too much. And we are also not pretty enough, not thin enough, not educated enough, not accomplished enough, not rich enough, our houses aren’t clean enough, our kids aren’t perfect enough. And apparently this pressure to conform to the standard has been around for a very long time.
In Luke 10, we meet Martha, a wealthy woman who was hosting a dinner party for Jesus and his disciples. While she hurried around with the preparations, her younger sister Mary ignored the demands of entertaining and simply sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching. In 1st century Jewish culture, it was highly inappropriate for a woman to sit at the feet of a rabbi. Mary was certainly managing to be too much and not enough all at the same time! She was too bold, too forward, too audacious and she was definitely not a good hostess.
Mary didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned about this, but Martha was indignant! While Martha labored so hard to measure up to the standard of her day, Mary simply sat there. So Martha appealed to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to come and help me.” (v. 40) Surely Jesus would help put Mary back in her place! But Jesus lovingly responds, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by so many things!” (v. 41) Jesus sees the pressure, the anxiety, the burden Martha feels as she tries to be the perfect woman. And he has compassion for her.
But then he continues, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (v. 42) According to society’s standards, Mary’s behavior was shocking and disappointing. But Mary doesn’t fail to measure up in the eyes of Jesus, the great liberator of women. According to Jesus, Mary is just exactly enough and not one bit too much.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1