This Sunday is the Mary/Martha Gospel, and the subject of perfection often comes up for me. Once while leading a group of women one of the moms shared that it just seemed so unfair that she didn't have as much time as she had before children to pray and enjoy God's company. She started to cry over this and felt such guilt at having to choose between God and her children.
This Gospel isn't meant to be a sort of Sophie's Choice, God does not want us to choose between our children and Himself; our children can enhance our experience of God's love for us and our love for him. The Gospel is about balance. Balance between God and ourselves. Like many "Marthas" in the world it is far too easy for me to forget that I have a right to take time for myself to pray and care for myself. This time spent in mediation and prayer helps make the burden of everyday life much easier to bear. Caring for my body is the responsibility of a Queen caring for her resources: our health is a resource. Jesus did say to Martha that Mary had chosen the better part, he was suggesting to Martha to come spend sometime with Him, the dishes can wait, we are big boys we can get our own food, we can help out. But it's Martha who rejects that offer and instead complains about how Mary is treating her. But is Mary doing this to Martha or is Martha doing it to herself?
We Marthas of the world often take far too much responsibility unto ourselves. I have a tendency to think that the children aren't doing this or that the way I want so I better do from now on, but what does that say? It says I am willing to create a way my our children to get out of the work of life and I am creating ways for me to become upset because NO BODY'S HELPING! Duh -- that's the atmosphere I created. Jesus is asking us to look at what perfectionism truly gives us. He is directly challenging us to give ourselves permission to let go and seek him, thus finding ourselves.
Martha is fighting the same fight I think many of us are fighting: perfectionism. She is caught up in the trip of only I can do it right! This leaves her and us with little time to share with others, care for ourselves or spend time with God; perfection traps us in the downward spiral of disappointment and self neglect.