Haven’t we all had that moment of feeling unprepared and frustrated when having people over? Is my home clean enough? Do my guests have a nice place to sit? Where did I put that corkscrew?
Now imagine the pressure of the ultimate guest coming to your home: Jesus.
When I plan my own parties and events, I find myself coming back time and time again to the story of Martha and Mary hosting Jesus at their home.
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
This story offers so many possible takeaways, and I think interpretations of this passage too often give Martha an unnecessarily hard time. In my view, hosting an event with confidence requires balancing your inner Martha and your inner Mary. We all have both instincts, to organize and to relax with friends, and they’re both wonderful. Here’s a way to think about balancing both when you throw your next party.
Benefits of your inner Mary
I love that Jesus praises Mary for just hanging out with Him. Remembering the true reason for any get-together—people—can prove so difficult in the face of real-life needs and logistical requirements. Mary prioritizes connection, she prioritizes quality time, she prioritizes love. Especially in the 21st century, these are such precious commodities to nurture and cherish.
How to channel your inner Mary
Plan your guest list thoughtfully. Surrounding yourself with delightful people will make even the simplest, humblest, most basic get-together so wonderful. Keep your preparations as simple as possible, to keep yourself from being leashed to the kitchen away from your guests. As best you can, plan to enjoy your own party!
Benefits of your inner Martha
When reading this passage, I like to imagine what Jesus’ arrival looked like. “Martha welcomed him into her home.” When she opened the door, did they share a huge hug? Did she offer him a place to put His sandals, a comfortable seat, water, bread? I bet that Martha did everything she could to make Jesus feel like royalty upon His arrival. I mean, He is King of course, but the metaphor stands. The time and the thought and the planning and the effort and the expense of her “preparations” were such a wonderful act of service to her honored guest.
In this passage, Martha shares something so intimate and precious and wonderful with her Lord—her home. This gift is incredible! I always feel so honored when a friend invites me into her space, especially for the first time. Your home is so personal! It’s worth protecting and treasuring, which relates to the impulse to prepare everything as much as possible before guests arrive.
How to channel your inner Martha
Give yourself permission to want to present your home well. It’s a special and private space, and you are allowed to want your home to look beautiful and tidy. If anyone gives you flack about “being so stressed out” or “worrying too much” then politely ignore them! Be kind to yourself, remember that “perfect is the enemy of good,” and remember that you have already given your guests the nicest thing you can offer as a host—an invitation.
The balancing act
A crucial event planning tip is tucked away quietly in this passage: “My sister has left me to do all the serving alone.”
What’s one of the best ways to reduce day-of party planning stress? Enlist a co-host!
Now what we can learn from Martha? Avoid assuming that anyone in particular will help. I suggest explicitly communicating ahead of time with possible co-hosts that you will likely need some help. Whether that be a roommate, husband, extroverted friend, or anyone else who could help, I recommend specifically asking for hosting help. I also recommend asking for help with a specific task.
How to ask for help from a co-host?
- I will probably be busy in the kitchen when guests arrive, can you man the door?
- The recipes for dinner will require a ton of chopping, could you leave some time in the afternoon to help me chop and prep the ingredients?
- If I greet guests at the door, could you stand near the bar and help serve people drinks?
Every woman has an inner Martha and an inner Mary that emerge when planning events. Embrace both of them, and you will find yourself feeling much more relaxed and confident and organized the next time you invite loved ones into your home.
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