Last weekend we did an activity with a group of 5th and 6th graders at our church. In the activity there was a plate that was passed around a circle of students. Each child was asked to share something they were required to do this past week and then add a plastic cup to the plate. The object of the activity was to stack/balance as many cups on the plate as possible without any of them falling. The kids said things like: walk the dog, go to camp, take the trash out….one set of siblings said: do mission work in Bolivia- (fair enough, they didn’t really have a choice in that.) Each student cautiously stacked one cup at a time. My husband was visibly surprised when the plate made it completely around the circle.
Unfortunately, when the cups started to fall, they didn’t fly off the plate in a dramatic explosion…. they simply stacked quietly, one on top of another.
The obvious message: When there is too much on your plate, things that are important will be neglected or eliminated. In this case: your prayer life, praise for God, being in community with others. Truth statement: Everyone is over scheduled, sadly, even some 12 year olds.
The activity was entirely too ironic. At the beginning of the summer, another woman stepped down from teaching because her schedule was becoming consumed by the activities of her daughters. I finally volunteered to teach at church. I had resisted for years (seven years to be exact.) I had staked out that hour and a half of quiet time as mine. Mine mine mine. However, when this opportunity arose this summer, I thought I was ready and I added that cup to my plate.
Immediately, things started to stack up. I was tired. I was resentful. I was desperate for quiet time. Caring for two young kids full time this summer was an exhausting transition. Now the hour and a half of quiet time was trumped yet again by needing to do something for someone else. I thought I could handle it, but it was too much. I needed to be alone. Alone with God, alone to people watch, alone to stare off into space…just alone.
Even more ironic, I had prayed about my decision to teach at church during this time and God told me nothing. Even though I had no response to my requests for guidance, I decided teaching at church wasn’t right for me. I emailed the head of children’s ministries. I needed quiet time with God back on my plate. She understood. In her response she said “God knows and provides.” Ironically, teaching children about God was the thing to purge. The next morning, God sent me this activity to teach the children. He does know. Message received.
You choose to put things on your plate.
It is not my intention to construct a deep and reflective post with suggestions of how to juggle it all. What I am suggesting, is put things on your plate that you honestly WANT to spend time balancing and purge the rest. Stop lamenting that there are too many things on your plate and start throwing shit out! I am worth it and so are you!
|Don't be this guy!|
Lets honor what we want to balance on our plate. You want to make space on your plate to write blog posts? Do it. You want to have family time from 5:30-8:30? Do it.
I balance my marriage, my young children, my friends and family, my job, my need to exercise slowly for 30 minutes a day, my blog and my quiet time. I purged teaching at church. It was a selfish decision and I don’t regret it. I already feel more at ease. Come fall, I will spend an hour and a half in church, in quiet reflection and prayer. What are you going to purge to make room on your plate for the things that bring you balance?