From Frantic to Settled: Inner Room Living in a Busy Life

When Martha Learns to be Mary

My brain is always working, spewing out thoughts and feelings. When my brain isn’t in conversational overdrive, activity is the name of the game. Doing and productivity push me to want to conquer my never-ending tasks.

Sometimes the better thing is to be still. The better thing is to listen rather than jibber on. The better thing is to step away from the pressure of my day and enter in to sacred secrecy with God.

Jesus said to a frantic and frazzled Martha–the one I know–the one trying to get it all done and get it all right:

You are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.–Luke 10:41-42.

How opposite from the demands of the day and the drive of this performance-crazy world. Jesus cuts through all the stuff that crowds us–the worry and stress, the doing and finishing, the external and temporary.

What secret had Mary discovered? What formula for delivering the soul and redeeming the day?

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him… Psalm 37:7


Sacred secrecy takes place in our inner room, that inmost heart, present and intimate with Christ. This is our holy of holies.

We need to cultivate sacred secrecy with God–not as in we should, but as in we really need it.

But what to do on those harried, chaotic Martha days?

Nothing is finished, the house is a wreck, and there is no quiet to be found. How do we get to this resting place when kids are crying and people are asking?

How does Martha learn to be Mary?


A Mess in the Kitchen


What if my inner room is a condition of the heart, rather than a space on the schedule, a place in the house, or a formula for spiritual growth?

For so long, I thought time with God had to be a certain way with a specific time and formula. It had to be quiet, with everything else stopped and put away. Too often, that quiet didn’t come.

And I felt guilty.

I felt lacking and displeasing to God.

I felt like a spiritual failure, as if God was depending on me to do everything just so.

The true secret to intimacy with God.

Intimacy with God

What if we learn to be present WITH God in the midst of the quiet moments as well as the busy times? What if we learn the secret of living WITH God, rather than working for God? WITH, that communion of spirit, enables us to pray, speak, work, and play with God–no lines and no divisions between sacred and secular, between doing and being.

As Martha learns to be Mary, we can learn to live like a monk long ago, who learned sacred secrecy in the doing of life:

Brother Lawrence quote

WITH–the sacred secrecy of living with God–Mary and Martha can come together.

What helps you to choose the better way?

Other Posts from this series:

Four Reasons Serving Others Can Make You Resentful

Are You Busy, Worried, and Bothered?

The Power of Also


Linking up with these wonderful bloggers: #RaRaLinkUp, Coffee for Your Heart, #TellHisStory, #ThreeWordWednesday, and Grace and Truth.


  1. Yes, we need to spend time with our God. I get up at 5-530 each morning to make sure I have quiet time. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ginger Harrington

      Those quiet morning hours are precious. I have a hard time getting up that early! Isn’t it a wonder to have God’s presence in our lives? Thanks for visiting today.

  2. Pingback: Make Me Aware of Your Presence Today, Lord

  3. I love that Brother Lawrence quote, Ginger: “Receive my work and possess all my affections.” I have an easy time –it’s just grace– having a daily quiet time, but once the day gets going, what I heard in the morning easily flies out the window, and I get “all Martha’d up!” I’m enjoying your posts on this topic. So important to learn to live WITH God at all times. (Much harder than setting aside a half hour a day!)

    • Ginger Harrington

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Betsy. I’ve enjoyed connecting with you through blogging groups. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who can get all “Martha’d up.” I’ve fallen into the “worried and bothered” place recently. I realized I was struggling with the very thing I’ve been writing about. So often, we right to ourseleves, don’t we?

  4. Thanks for helping this Martha refocus and find Mary ways.

  5. I love the thought of an inner-room experience in a busy world. : )

  6. I love your reminder to be WITH Him in the busy times as well as the quiet. If we are going to “pray without ceasing” that must include the busy, overwhelmed times too–the quiet prepares us for the busy! I am learning to enjoy His peace even in the most stressful, chaotic moments!

    • Ginger Harrington

      Half the battle is remembering to rely on Christ in the midst of the fray. What a valuable thing you are learning, experiencing His peace even in the chaos. Thank you for sharing your heart today!

  7. I learned and relearned that my time with God orders my day. When I storm ahead with my to-do list I end up with a not-done list. When I spend time with God, ask Him to fill my heart and to set my priorities, my days are more fulfilling. My time in a “Mary” frame of mind guides my “Martha” work priorities.

    • Ginger Harrington

      Oh, let’s not talk about the “not-done” list! Allowing God to guide our priorities is so helpful. Love the way you you expressed this, Sherry. Thanks for visiting today!

  8. Great post, Ginger! I so frequently desire this inner-room living but somehow struggle with all the distractions of duty, so I know the Martha feeling all too well but desire the Mary one. I also absolutely love the Brother Lawrence quote that Betsy shared above, excellent! I appreciate you sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!

    • Ginger Harrington

      Great to have you visiting today, Holly. God brings this quote to mind so frequently–especially the tasks I don’t particularly like to do. May God give you great space in your thoughts for Him. Blessings today!

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