Family · Travel

Taking Mary on a Road Trip–and Leaving Martha Behind

Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.

Dear Anne,

“I really shouldn’t go,” I told myself. “I have no business going out of town for two days just a month before the wedding!” I was due to go to a high school graduation/birthday party for my cousin’s daughter in Richmond and my whole extended family would be there, many of whom won’t be able to attend the wedding. I hadn’t seen them since last summer and I wanted to go, but my to-do list was threatening to get it’s own zip code if it got any longer. And I was feeling extra frazzled and out-of-sorts because it had been a week of frustrating first-world problems.

On Wednesday, the installers cracked our new marble counter top for the powder room renovation. (Yes, a classic case of “you had one job”.) The stone dealer didn’t have another piece of similar marble in stock, so now I have to scramble to find someone who does and who can fabricate and install before I have 60 people in my house for the wedding brunch—if not, I won’t have a sink in the powder room. I have been working on a needlepoint wedding gift for the happy couple and I’ve been ripping out and redoing sections, running out to buy new threads, obsessing over it trying to get it just right, even as the July 18th deadline to finish looms. Then my decorator called and told me the truck carrying the fabric for my new family room chairs was involved in a fiery wreck and it would have to be entirely re-made, pushing delivery back about a month.

So I was feeling a bit overwhelmed Thursday as I pondered everything I had to do, and whether the trip to Virginia made sense. But one of my errands brought me near the Divine Love adoration chapel (home of the pink sisters!) and I always try to spend some quiet time there when I am in the neighborhood—especially when I’m feeling so unsettled. Even as I was walking up the steps to the chapel, my mind was racing. “How can I take two days this weekend for something frivolous, a party of all things, when I have so many IMPORTANT things to do?” “It’s five hours each way on I-95 in summer traffic!” “I shouldn’t even be here, I should be at home cleaning the house!” 

I struggled to quiet my mind, to just be there with Jesus, to try to listen to what He had to say, not what my racing thoughts were telling me. In the calm of the chapel, it occurred to me. I was being Martha, when I had the opportunity to be more Mary.


I shouldn’t have viewed going to Richmond as just another item on my to-do list. It was an opportunity to love and to be loved by cousins I don’t see nearly enough. It was a chance to share the gift of my time with uncles and aunts that are my last link to earlier generations. And that five hour drive down 95? What if I reframed it as time with hubby without all the distractions of our daily life? (Shared misery is a great bonding agent!) 

Saturday afternoon found me where I belonged. Not rushing around trying to find a perfect piece of marble, but on my cousin’s porch. We laughed over the old stories and remembered the ones who aren’t with us anymore. Jesus calls us to love, and the trip was a gift of my time born of love for my family, a love that was was returned in smiles, hugs and sweet tea.  

Try to tell me she isn’t worth 5 hours on 95! 

So I might not have a sink and countertop in my powder room by the time I host the wedding brunch, but I will host family and friends with joy (and maybe some hand sanitizer). My wedding gift may not be perfect to my critical eye, but it will be created with love. And if some of my to-do’s didn’t get done this weekend? It was worth it to be embraced by family and to learn to be a little more Mary in this Martha-heavy season of my life. As Jesus said to Martha when she complained Mary was not helping her with the housework, “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” So marble may crack and fabric might get destroyed but family is forever. And you can never go wrong choosing what is better—to love and be loved.



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