Over the course of the autumn, a group of women met monthly to discuss and dissect the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. Sometimes we agreed with the book, sometimes we disagreed. Whatever the case, our discussions were always fruitful.
At our last discussion for this book, we made a list of “takeaways” from the book and our group.
Below, I’ve written our list. Ladies, care to add anything?
We agreed with the following parts of the book:
- Early on in the book, Weaver wrote something that I hope sticks with me for the rest of my life. I can’t find the exact quote now, but she encourages her readers to go to bed at night, knowing that whatever didn’t get done during the day didn’t really need to get done. We don’t need to count our so-called “failings” as we go to sleep. Rest. Tomorrow is a new day, the world will go on spinning.
- Doing everything yourself is actually a disservice to the people around you. Usually, we benefit from our service. We build relationships with those around us, we learn new skills, we receive gratification for a job well done. So, if only one person does EVERYTHING, (s)he gets all the benefit! We talked about how this is true within our families as well as a congregation. Taking the time to teach our children to do chores benefits them in the end. Learning to cook, tidy, organize, separate laundry will help them as they venture out on their own. Moms/Dads don’t need to spend all their time in the kitchen! Hand your kid a dishrag and share your load!
- Keep the Sabbath as a day of rest- don’t use it as just another day to get stuff done. Keeping the Sabbath will require advanced planning- grocery shopping and food preparation during the week, major chores done on other days. But if we set realistic expectations for what we can do in a week (“Forget about the daisies” and “The dust will still be there tomorrow” were two things Joan said, meaning life doesn’t have to be picture perfect), we should be able to spend a day at rest with our friends, family, and church community. Leena mentioned that Germany’s shops still close on Sundays. Rachel then noted that Germany has the strongest economy in Europe! Maybe there’s something to that!
- Weaver talked about spiritual Snickers bars- things that might make us feel better temporarily, but don’t really provide sustenance. We all agreed that we have these- social media, TV, smart phones- there’s so much noise and busyness, it’s easy to be distracted and not focus on the relationships that are important.
We disagreed with the following parts of the book:
- We strongly disagreed with the chapter on punishment. Weaver asserted that bad things happen to us as punishment for going off of our path. That we needed a spiritual spanking to correct our ways. None of us felt this was how God interacted with us. Christ is the Great Shepherd, and as Joan said, “Shepherds don’t spank the sheep!”
- We also disagreed with the way that service and meaningful time with Christ were presented as mutually exclusive. As if one couldn’t serve whilst being in communion with Christ. While I understand her point- she talks of missing out on an excellent worship service and sermon, because she was in the kitchen washing dishes- if we’re open to how Christ is leading us to serve, and if we are open to what He’s hoping to do with us as we serve, if we’re open to others and serve with Christ’s joy, service and building a relationship with Christ can be combined. Personally, some of the best conversations and relationship building have been during coffee hour, washing coffee cups in the kitchen!
- Finally, Weaver talks a lot about a personal relationship with Jesus and how this personal relationship needs to be built in peace and quiet. She stresses the importance of finding time to fit in quiet Bible study and prayer. We should get up earlier or go to bed later. She goes so far as to say that when she lights her candle, it’s her signal to her kids that she’s not to be disturbed! She’s praying! That might work for Weaver, but we didn’t think this was the only way to have a meaningful, Christ-centered life. In fact, after discussing it, we thought that shared worship, prayer, and Bible reading would actually be more beneficial. Specifically, we talked about praying aloud and reading the Bible with our kids- including them in our personal reflection teaches them how they might pray and study and ensures that we do it. In my house, after this particular discussion, we’ve made our bedtime prayer time a bit more elaborate. We light a candle together, and I’ve ordered a kid-friendly Bible book for our nightly reading.
Finally, we had these bits of wisdom that we can claim as our own! 🙂
- Coffee hour is an important ministry!! The relationships we build in those 45 minutes after church on Sunday are integral to the life of the church.
- We talked about how much easier it is to serve when we hear “thank you.” So, we made a note to remain conscious of showing our gratitude to those who serve us.
We’re starting our second discussion group with a new book on January 25. Click here for details!