An Open Letter to Mary

“My dear, you have been a thorn in my side for years. I have wanted to be like you, but find I keep ending up more like your sister. My prayer has been to find a way to blend the responses of both of you into one gloriously perfect hostess. Sigh….”

(This weekend, we had the pleasure of having guests come and stay in our home. When the Lord laid the idea on my heart that we needed to offer them a place for the night, my house was probably as bad as it has ever been – or darn close. I laughed when I thought the Lord was speaking that to me…it was Tuesday. They were going to be here on Thursday at noon-ish. We had decided to go out for early dinner – they need never see this pit.

I ignored the Lord as best I could all day Tuesday, until our family Bible time in the evening – then the Holy Spirit pushed me to share what was on my heart – we prayed and we all felt certain that we were to make the offer. I was shell shocked to say the least. Here is the fruit of that decision……… )

“So, Mary, my dear, I’m facing guests in this pit – now, tell me how do you choose “the better part” when the house will surely make someone feel uncomfortable? I know that my friend Lydia knows how to do this – she shared about it not too long ago. She willingly allows others into her home with open arms…saying that the niggling in my heart is nothing more than pride. Kim is the same way. Well, let me tell you – Lydia and Kim ain’t never had this mess.

Come here – you just come look at this, because Sister Mary, it’s YOUR fault I’m even struggling with this – by all rights, I should be working on my house, not spending it here in my prayer closet. See – boxes EVERYWHERE. It’s not enough that we’re rearranging the house to allow for Jeff’s new work with Dave, we have to be in the midst of seasonal clothes changing – a recipe for disaster in its own right. Oh GEE, what’s this? The kids decided to empty their junk bins to sort through those too. Could we possibly have more of a mess in this house?!! Well, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d send Martha over. I could use a good worker around here, not some one who will sit on her duff and do nothing to help.

Now, can you tell me what on earth made you just sit there at Jesus’ feet, rather than doing something….anything to help out?! Really, you’re a woman. You know that our men – our children – the people the Lord places in our lives – need respite. You understand that. You understand, surely, that part of the delight in being a woman is ministering physical comfort to those in our care. Part of that comfort is a clean and beautiful place to rest…and good food to enjoy while they’re doing it. So, what made you sit there…doing nothing?

We talked about all this recently as we discussed hospitality….Deborah shared about it, too. So, here I am – wanting to learn how to sit and fellowship and choose the better thing, rather than being distracted by many things. How do I accomplish this? How do I adopt Kim’s heart, rather than my own? How do I not look like Erica – fussing over her house and making me feel like I’ve caused her tons of work? I’m not leaving until I have a greater understanding of this, just so you know. So, if Lynn’s guys show up and the house is a TOTAL disaster, it’s your fault.

Messily – inside and out – Dawn”

So, I sat and I prayed – I knew that this was a watershed moment for me. I knew that if I worked myself ragged and yelled and snarled and groused at my children, I knew we could have the house looking pretty good – but it would take a lot of time…and it would make a stressed me. That didn’t seem like the better part. So, instead I prayed…..and I prayed….and I sat in my prayer closet waiting for God to show up and mold my heart into something He could use this weekend, rather than a stressed, grumpy old woman.

And He came. He spoke to me about my heart – my desire to impress and my desire to make things look good. He showed me that sometimes I label it “to make people comfortable” when in reality – it’s to make ME comfortable. He spoke to me of the selfishness of being more concerned about me than I was about those who would be coming to visit. He spoke to me about having my eyes on the activity – the act of having guests, rather than the guests themselves. He spoke to me of how the better part always has been and always will be the act of honoring our guests in our hearts, rather than our skills/performance. He helped me see that Martha’s act of service in the kitchen wasn’t wrong because of the work – it was the heart behind it.

Her frenzied state of mind is demonstrated in her demanding (and subsequent annoyance at) her sister’s lack of help. Her heart wasn’t focused on serving her Guest (I had the little g – she had the Big G) ๐Ÿ˜‰ it was focused on doing it well – doing it right. Serving the right food – serving the right drink – these were the things on her heart – rather than those that she would be serving to.

I always thought I was doing that before – that the comfort of our guests was of utmost concern – and in some ways I think it was, but the frenzy behind it – the lack of being able to forget myself has not happened before. Was the house clean? Not even kind of. Was I frazzled? Not even kind of. Was this any different from any other time we’ve had guests? Not even kind of. (We served the same foods, did the same basic things) Was this the same as any other time we’ve had guests? Not even kind of. (The change was IN me)

I am so grateful for all the work that Mary has done in my household this week.

11 Responses to “An Open Letter to Mary”
  1. Dawn – It sounds like you had a wonderful time:) I bet your guests did, too! I love this story and it’s a good thing because I am seeing it everywhere. Ev.Re.Where! Think Father might be trying to show me something?

  2. Jen says:

    ahhh…1.5 hours til company… uh huh. I hear ya. Gonna go meditate on this as I finish cleaning my kitchen. :p

  3. winkies6 says:

    I can certainly relate after opening my house for an entire summer to a family of 5. For those who don’t know…. family of 6 in an already small house (1100 sq ft) plus a family of 5. Pretty tight. But that’s what God wanted. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Patricia says:

    Great encouragement, Dawn! Thank you!

  5. javadawn says:

    Shannon, We did have a WONDERFUL time. We LOVED having Lynn’s guys in our home. It was truly a delight – and I came close to missing out on it! God is SO gracious to not let me be such a dope!!ย  (if Father is tapping your heart about this, hold on Sistah!!) ย  ๐Ÿ˜€

    Karen, you KNOW how I feel about you sharing your home. I think it was an amazing act of love and servanthood. I do not know if I could ever attain to that.

    So Jen, how’d ya do?!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Patricia, thank you.ย  You encourage me so often, I’m delighted I could return the blessing.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Jen says:

    With the help of my husband (I’m sure Mary would be sorry I got him first ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I had an hour to “spare” – wash hands, eat, dress, sit and pray before the onslaught, er… fellowship began. Hospitality generally means cleaning, and this was no exception, however He blessed our joint efforts – cleaning with my sweetie is often more challenging than I bargain for. ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately, I think I am reveling in the cleanliness more than the excellent time of fellowship around His Word. :/ So, I guess better get some more practice. Though this week I HUMILIATED myself by inviting our new neighbor and daughter in from the cold. What a tragedy for my pride. I failed to keep from apologizing, but we still enjoyed our visit. She must have felt comfortable enough with me and our home, she sent her baby over for a bath later on when they had no hot water. ๐Ÿ˜€ … okay, enough of this blog about me! hehe… so, two occassions this week, one I was prepared for and the other I wasn’t. I will enjoy this one more tomorrow and in the coming months as I have the cleanest kitchen I’ve had in ages. I do believe, however, that I enjoyed my messy house visit more for just the visit aspect. Maybe that’s just cuz I’m *lazy*. /ramble off/

  7. Lynn says:

    Just so you know, I’ve heard nothing about your house but loads of rave reviews about your family. Little g and C had so, So, SO much fun at your place.

  8. javadawn says:

    Ahhh, but Lynn, my dear – don’t you see?!! It’s because of YOUR willing, loving giving of hospitality that they weren’t stuck on the messy house part – they were able to see real welcoming – true desire to honor them at work, rather than the mess. It’s a testimony to what YOU are training into your family!!! (I know, to God be the glory – but it’s still a measure of you. For which I thank you!!)

  9. Susan says:

    That was so well written and I loved the conversation with Mary. I too am working on this. IT was very encouraging. Thank you Dawn. And I am so glad I found you. I guess I didn’t realize you had a blog.

  10. javadawn says:

    Susan, why thank you – I pray that you will find you do better at it than I have. ๐Ÿ˜• It was really a struggle for me – especially the night Jeff showed our guests the WHOLE house – you know, the messy closets, the hidden stuff?? I thought for sure I was going to have to do something drastic to my hubby. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Holy Spirit just reminded me that this is part of allowing others in – it was symbolic of allowing others access to my heart – to share transparently, rather than trying to be anything I wasn’t. So, I accepted that this is the season for messy closets and therefore, any subsequent visits can only mean they won’t be any worse than this one. ๐Ÿ˜†

    Jen, my dear, lazy is NOT a word I’d apply to you! I think the difference is you were able to be more intimate in the visit, rather than in the large fellowship time. I’ll have Jeff call your hubby and suggest closet visits. You’ll feel much closer to them all in NO time!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  1. […] You’ll want to read An Open Letter to Mary, posted this weekend by JavaDawn about her recent experience with the Lord teaching her to let go of herself and serve others through genuine hospitality.ย  This stuff encourages me greatly! […]

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