The presence of boredom in my life (Part I) led me to realize that my faith was flat and that the root causes were lack of connection (Part II) and a focus on comparisons. While my faith appeared vibrant and alive on the outside, I did not feel that way on the inside. I had pinhole leaks in my faith.
Think of how a tire goes flat most of the time. Usually, a pinhole leak rather than a huge gash leads to a flat tire. Lack of connection (Part II) and a focus on comparisons created two pinhole leaks that led to my flat faith. Without these leaks, my faith might not just appear vibrant and full but I might actually feel that way on the inside too.
Humor. Clothing. Jewelry. Work. Exercise. Health. Diet.
Prayer. Bible study. Church activity. Worship.
All areas of constant comparison. What’s better? What’s worse? Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
Then came frustration. Frustration over people not doing what I think they should do and not growing and adapting and changing like I think they should. Complicated lives that, following my plan, could be simpler.
I constantly saw what I thought were Martha types forgetting to be like Mary.
Up until recently, I never viewed myself as a Martha. Actually, I felt out of place in what I viewed as a Martha-dominant culture. But then I realized that my focus on comparisons revealed Martha-like thinking that distracted me from focusing on Jesus.
While the story of Jesus visiting Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-41) is familiar to me, I only recently read it while trying to understand Martha’s thought process. Doing so helped me identify my own Martha-like thinking that produced…
- Worry about the task at hand, even with tasks I usually enjoyed.
- Concern over what others are or are not doing based on what I think they should be doing.
- Feelings of unfairness based on what others are being allowed to get away with.
- Stress from worrying about details.
- Missing out on what’s truly important, namely connection with Jesus and with others.
This Martha-like thinking arose whenever I focused on comparisons. It happened with my kids, my church family, my husband and my extended family. It happened with people I barely knew and even with people I did not know at all. In fact, I often made comparisons based on knowing nothing about a situation and based solely on assumptions. My perception, when focused on comparisons, became extremely distorted.
Not only did my perception of others become distorted, my perception of myself also became distorted. And this distorted perception created a major distraction from my just being with Jesus.
In “Fed Up With Flat Faith,” Kathy Howard talks about Martha’s flat faith resulting from her focus on doing over being. Kathy notes how Martha’s “serving distracted her from enjoying Christ’s presence. Martha was too busy to spend time fostering intimacy with Christ.”
Martha’s thought process and her comparison of what she was doing based on what Mary was doing and what she thought Mary should be doing distracted her from just being with Jesus. That’s exactly what happens when my thought processes get Martha-like.
The church in Ephesus suffered from Martha-like thinking too when, as Kathy points out, they got to a point when “their works supplanted their love for Jesus” (Revelation 2:2-5). In other words, they got focused on doing over being.
In my own focus on doing over being, my faith became deflated. I actually remember a time when I could just be and appreciate others where they were. I could sit, reflect and let the Holy Spirit speak to me. That’s also when I experienced tremendous spiritual growth. Odd to think that I grew the most the less I did.
DISCUSSION: How does evaluating others get in the way of your vibrant, full faith?
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all direct quotes are taken from “Flat Faith” by Kathy Howard. Also, be sure to heck out Kathy’s guest posts Flat Spots Here and There – Part I and Flat Spots Here and There – Part II.