Martha vs. Mary

This is not my house.  I’m not going to lie, though.  I would really LOVE it if my family room looked just like this picture from Ballard Designs.  Look at that coffee table.  You can actually see it.  People could drop by unexpectedly and visit in a family room like that.  And they wouldn’t trip over dog toys or shoes.

I get exhausted just thinking about all the effort it would take to get my family room even close to looking like that.  And that’s just one room.  At the moment, I’m still at the end of unpacking from our recent move.  Soon, though, the house will reach its “cruising altitude” of controlled chaos.  It will only approach Ballard perfection if we have a party.

That brings me to Martha and Mary.  My Catholic readers will recognize the names from this Sunday’s Gospel reading (Luke 10:38-42).  It’s the story of Jesus visiting the home of the sisters Martha and Mary.  Martha is consumed with serving and attending to Jesus while Mary sits at His feet to listen to His teaching.  Martha complains that Mary has left her with all the work, but Jesus reminds her that Mary has chosen to stay close to Him and focus on His teaching: “the good portion.”  The Martha’s in life often let day-to-day trivia distract them from what’s truly important.

I’m torn between Martha and Mary.  I feel badly for Martha, who just wants everything to be nice for her guest (the ultimate Guest).  I also admire Mary, who doesn’t care what others think of her as she concentrates on what is really meaningful.  When we made the decision to homeschool, the Mary in me declared that our house was not ever going to be immaculate and the laundry might never be caught up because I had more important things to do: namely, attend to my kids’ education.  But my Martha-side is calling, loudly.  Now that my kids are both in high school, is it too much to ask for even one room to look like Ballard Designs?

My compromise: I’m probably one of the last people on earth to find the Nester, a woman who seems to have her Martha and Mary balanced.  Her blog is full of beautiful decorating and lifestyle ideas for real people.  Her mantra speaks to me: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”   No more excuses.  I can give up on the idea of perfection, but I don’t have to sacrifice beauty, style, or comfort.  Ballard would never take shortcuts, but I sure will to keep my Martha-Mary equilibrium.

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