Women Supporting Women

10 comments Written on December 5th, 2016     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Ellie VerGowe is currently serving as Ministerial Resident for Community Outreach at First
Covenant Church on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Ellie enjoys singing at the top of her lungs, being
outside and is already ready for a dance party.

I’ve been thinking of Mary and Martha recently. They’re relatable women…and we don’t always
get to hear a lot about women in our scriptures. Sadly, I sometimes find this story co-opted to
shame Martha for her actions in NOT sitting at Jesus’ feet. However, I think there is more
happening in the text. Luke 10:38-42 says:

8b3f6aeed63abc4b437c56b92e4c7edf“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named
Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the
Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many
tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me
to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her,
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only
one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’”

I think it is easy to forget that Martha was doing exactly what everyone in her day was expecting
her to do. She was probably preparing a necessary meal for Jesus and his disciples as Jesus
taught at her house. She was being hospitable. She was being welcoming. She was providing a
safe and restful place for her friends. And…it was understandable that she would want a little
help doing these things!

Mary, on the other hand, breaks all gender norms and takes the place that would be reserved
only for a male disciple…she sits down at the teacher’s feet and listens to him to learn. This is
wildly inappropriate for that time.

Mary was rebuked by her sister and was probably glared at by the male disciples. Churches
today often shame Martha for her lack of focus on her Savior and complaining, anxious heart.
But Jesus…Jesus defends the one being shamed. And he gently speaks with Martha as well.
Jesus doesn’t seem to shame Martha for what she is doing…only tells her that focus on himself
is the better thing. Perhaps Martha was distracted and not centered on Jesus as she was
preparing the meal, for Jesus says that Mary chose “the better option.” But Jesus doesn’t tell
her to stop working, does he (hopefully he sent one of the disciples into help after this
conversation!)? Perhaps Jesus knows Martha’s calling and pushes her to see God’s love for her
in that work too, just as Mary did as she sat at the teacher’s feet.

If only life were like that.

Being a woman can be hard enough without getting shamed for how we serve Jesus. Some of
us are pastors. Some of us are mothers. Some of us are CEOs. We are chefs, janitors, artists,
teachers, social workers, mathematicians, dog-walkers, students, doctors, business owners and
a whole host of other things that God has created us to be for this season or longer. We can sit
at Jesus’ feet while we work at all these things. But while we espouse liberation for women and
say that anyone can serve God in the ways she is created to, called to and wants to, we
sometimes don’t act like it. We women sometimes shame even each other! Career women
shame women who are stay at home mothers and say that “they aren’t true feminists.” Stay at
home mothers shame a woman who works full time because she “isn’t doing what God created
a woman to do.”

This is wrong! We women need each other! We can sit at Jesus’s feet as we live our diverse
array of life experiences. When a woman among us is struggling, let us lift her up in
encouragement. When a woman among us is failing, let us surround her and fight for her instead
of shame her and work for her demise. When a woman among us is being celebrated, let us
bring the cake and the streamers and not compare ourselves and our own accomplishments.
Let us encourage each other to serve and love God in whatever season we are in or path life
takes. Let us tell each other the truth because we want the best for each other. Let us love our
sisters like we wish we were loved. Let us trust that we are each struggling and working to listen
to God with our whole hearts.

*Artwork by Dr. He Qi titled “Martha and Mary.”



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10 comments “Women Supporting Women”

Bravo. We are often our own worst enemies! Lets stop comparing.

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I find that comparison is one of my struggles even though I know it to be so untruthful and hurtful for everyone. Thanks for reading, Karen! 

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Thanks, Ellie!
Agree! Anything we do to encourage one another and break down what keeps us from connecting, supporting, praying, growing together–that is good, whether we identify with Mary or Martha!

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Amen Meagan! So grateful for your leadership in it! 

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Ellie, thank you for the perspective. My wife and I recently have been watching Jane the Virgin and find it a delightful promotion of the very themes that you are addressing – women supporting, caring for, and even challenging one another. Probably a silly parallel to make but I’ve recently been touched by the deep spirituality of the show and the strong female heroines. Peace, Jon Lemmond

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Jon, I have LOVED watching that show! Thanks for mentioning it here. Such strong women and such amazing themes. Thanks for reading and connecting! 

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Hey Ellie. Have you seen this gif? I love it and it your words. They go together beautifully. http://www.libbyvanderploeg.com/lifteachotherup/

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YES!!!! I love this one. Thanks for reminding me, Alice! This is exactly it. 

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Oh Ellie – I pray for the day when young and old in the body of Christ will recognize the wide breath ministries in the calling of women and how each is a gift so badly needed for the body of Christ to experience so everyone can be enriched and blessed by women who have been encouraged to fully demonstrate and live into being faithful witnesses for Christ. Oh and I love, love, love the artwork!

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Amen amen and AMEN!!!! And right? The He Qi piece is so magnificent! 

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