You know that feeling where you are the plate spinner at the circus and all your plates are wobbling and about ready to fall? Only this is real life and if one plate drops it means something important comes crashing down? Yeah, that feeling. That is where I have been lately. It is mostly due to health things with family. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. That also means that though I am functioning and doing the minimum of what needs to be done, I am not my best at any of them.
My pastor life is suffering because, although I have a sermon for Sunday morning, it is being finished in the wee hours of said Sunday morning and I know it is not my best work (which is sometimes ok because God makes it work). I have not had the time or energy to visit or call to check on people. I have not had the time and energy to take care of all those little things that pastors deal with during the week either. I know the latter surprises some of you because “pastors only work for four hours on Sunday!” My continuing education has been suffering. I signed up for a six week on-line course but have missed the last two weeks of class because of other plates that had to be spun in that hour.
My housekeeping role is suffering because I find myself having to take care of everything lately’ whereas my husband and I have always shared the household chores. Dinner has become something to eat because we have to eat to live and not because either of us really wants to eat. Neither my husband nor I even know what sounds appealing when meal time rolls around lately. This means that we often end up eating whatever is quick and easy to throw together instead of what is healthy but more time consuming to prepare. Cleaning – the deep cleaning that needs to be done at my house – has taken a back seat to surface cleaning so we have a clean table and a few clean dishes to eat on.
Even my personal life is suffering. Usually I read a book a week or work a 1,000 piece puzzle in a couple of days. I had to renew my latest library book not once, but twice, and even then I was still a day or two late getting it turned back in. My latest puzzle has been on the table for a week. It is not much further along than it was three days ago. I just can’t find seem to find the time to do the things I enjoy. And when I do, I can not get excited about doing them.
I have too many plates spinning right now. I know I need to let a few of them fall. I need to let some of them hit the floor and stay there. I just haven’t really figured out which ones those are. I have been here before. I know it is not a healthy place to be. Too many plates lead to too much stress, which then leads to a whole host of other unhealthy things.
One of the most unhealthy things I find myself doing when I am in this place is trying to do everything myself. In other words, I rely on my abilities rather than on what God can and will do in my life. While there is not a lot of scientific evidence that I know of that this leads to ill physical health, I know it leads to spiritual illness. And at least for me, if I let that continue for very long it will manifest itself physically – like today I am feeling the stress of too many plates and not enough Jesus in the muscles in my neck, back, and shoulders. Eventually, it will begin to affect my sleep. Then, in reaction to sheer exhaustion, my immune system will weaken and I will pick up whatever bug is going around. In order to protect myself and those around me, I need to stop for a few minutes and take a step back. As the Psalmist says, I need to “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among all the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).
Be still. That means all those plates I have spiining – all of them that are starting to wobble, causing me to run from one to the next – ALL OF THEM will fall to the floor. Some of them may shatter, never to be fixable again. Some of them my end up in one piece. But none of them will be spinning. And that is okay for now. I think God is telling me that I need to give all my plates over to him for a time. God will break the ones that God doesn’t think I need to hold on to or pick up again. God will protect the ones that God wants me to pick up and start spinning at some later date. But for now, I hear God saying to me, “My child, come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NIV). That is what I need to hear today. Now if I can just let my plates fall so I can heed it.