Pieces of Heaven

Monday, July 4, 2011

Letting Go of Martha

I'm a self proclaimed perfectionist. Up until this past year, I was the type who didn't want to work on a project unless I knew I could do it correctly. I wouldn't let Joseph wear mismatched socks. I would proofread and edit my e-mails at least three times...once for spelling, once for grammar, and once for content...and then again if I didn't feel that was sufficient.

Even the pajamas I went to sleep in had to match.

Well, I think that this phase of being a perfectionist is rapidly coming to an end. As I am slowly learning: Motherhood is NOT compatible with perfectionism. (Nor is being a wife, or a DRE for that matter.)

Of course, this does not mean that moms shouldn't try to perfect (as in modeling their virtues after Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother)...but it does mean not getting stressed out when things don't go as planned. It does mean taking a break from polishing that report and spending time with family instead. It does mean being able to go outside without hair that is perfectly coiffed or lipstick that is perfectly applied.

When I was first married, I had dreams of living in California, perhaps by the beach, and having a dream job teaching. I imagined a clean house, folded laundry, perfectly cooked and seasoned food, and four kids.

As DH and I rapidly approach our five year wedding anniversary, I've realized that dreams change.

I recently read a book that spoke at great length about perfectionism and what it DOES to people. To summarize, the author spoke about how trying to live up to others' ideas of what is perfect causes nothing but stress. (Imagine that!) There aren't any awards for who has the cleanest house or who can bake something that is absolutely delectable from scratch. There are no awards for who can dress the best or who goes to sleep with matching pajamas...(at least none that I've found!)

The book spoke about redefining perfectionism as completing a task to the point where it makes YOU happy. This advice is all well and good, but what if you are the one who is never happy and sets unachievable and unrealistic standards for yourself?

It's time to re-evaluate what should really bring happiness to your life. I came across a quote from Voltaire that states, "Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good." I wish that I had read that quote in context- but reading it by itself, I would imagine it to mean, "do not let perfectionism be the enemy of what is good." Meaning- that striving to be perfect for the sake of being perfect, is an enemy to what is good- striving for perfection in order to emulate the GREATEST good, God.

When Our Lord was visiting Martha and Mary, Martha was bustling around in the kitchen, trying to get everything ready for dinner. If Martha was anything like me, she probably had gone over what she wanted to feed her guest 50 times, had scoured over her kitchen for hours, and was praying for the food not to burn, all the while getting annoyed that her sister was just sitting around instead of helping her play the perfect hostess.

When Martha asks Jesus to send Mary to help her, he says:

"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42


There's so much more I could write in this post, but it's been sitting in my drafts since July 4! I guess I'm also losing my habit of getting things done in one sitting and "on time." :)

1 comment:

  1. I love this post because it rings so true for motherhood. I too struggle with perfectionistic tendency and all I get is stress. It's great to remember Martha and Mary once in a while because it puts a lot of things in better perspective when we really need it!