Anytime someone tells me about how their life is full of complications, and they feel like there are problems coming at them from all sides, it takes me back to a very specific memory. It was over 6 years ago. Tommy was about 6 six weeks old. We were getting ready to move so there were rooms in various stages of readiness–some were completely boxed up and labeled and some hadn’t been touched. It was the afternoon before Tommy’s baptism and family was in town, including my grandparents from Florida. However, even though I had many relatives in town, I can remember that I was alone in the house with Tommy. I think everyone had decided to go out to dinner, and I had not yet mastered the Take a New Baby Out in Public Routine. And I’m fairly certain that while my family had gone out to dinner, Tommy’s father was at the bar.
So I was alone. And I recall that my evening attempt at nursing had failed again. Six weeks since Tommy’s birth and I still wasn’t providing the amount that he needed. Which sent me into a freak out mode complete with a phone call to the Lactation Coach. She must have been tired of my frequent calls because I remember her response was basically, “I don’t know what else to tell you.” I did. It was called “Enfamil,” but she couldn’t professionally say that. But I still felt like a complete failure as a mother.
Anyway, I had a baby who I couldn’t sustain as nature intended, a house that was half-packed with movers coming in days and a husband who couldn’t pack a Happy Meal box, let alone a moving box, family in town and that’s never stressful, cats that I had to find a home for because they couldn’t move with us, and a useless Lactation Coach. At that moment, I felt defeated on all sides. I felt like I could not handle one more thing, one more worry, one more burden. I vividly remember standing in my dining room, pointing my finger and looking up and declaring these words, “ENOUGH! God, I’ve had enough. No more. I can’t handle one more thing.”
Of course, even if you don’t know me, you know the end to that story. The baptism was beautiful and a joyous occasion. I eventually let go of my dream to nurse Tommy. I managed somehow to get all the boxes packed. The cats found a home. And I didn’t have the ground open up and swallow me whole because I yelled at God.
At that declaration, I was in direct violation of the mantras, “If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it,” and “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Nope. I was in the “Seriously? I’ve got all this going on and you’re going to add one more thing to my plate,” mantra. Make a meme out of that one. I’m pretty sure the background picture would look like this:
I think the important thing is the feeling I had after my ceiling pointing rant at God. I felt better. I knew that the problems would get ultimately get fixed, but also knew that I was at my breaking point. I wouldn’t be able to bend to any additional stressful demand. I had had enough and I had to let God know. God better not give me another spoonful on my plate. Walk on by with that extra serving of Stressful Shit Casserole.
God, I’m full.
And that’s one of my favorite ways to help me think and process when life is coming at me. I see a dining room table. I see two place settings. Everything matches, the flatware, the dishes, the details are the same. Except for the plates. One plate is the regular, dinner size plate. And the other is small, reserved for desserts and other small portioned meals. The bigger place setting is God’s plate. And the other, the smaller, is mine.
Of course, my plate gets filled quickly. Old problems like to linger around, like the cold lima beans that I refuse to eat. There’s not much room to take on new problems. But somehow when Life is the Head Chef and passing out portions, I can’t say no to whatever is being served. Sometimes Life is like your grandmother telling you to eat the dessert, and she’s not taking no for an answer.
The only way to avoid overconsumption is to look at my plate and find what’s making me full. What do I need to put on God’s plate? God’s plate is big. It’s ginormous. It’s so huge that you can move any worrisome portion size and there will still be room for more.
So that’s one of my go-to, I gotta get through this, mantras. “Put it on God’s plate.” Can I get an Amen? I’m not ashamed when I can’t do it. I’m not going to pretend and smile and say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Nope. This girl is going to recognize when something is out of her control and taking up a part of her plate that should have Peace of Mind as the featured entree, not WTF Stew.
It’s not easy to put them on God’s plate though. Sometimes we don’t want to share those portions. Sometimes the Judge whispers and convinces me that if you put it on God’s plate you’ll regret it. Sometimes the Judge even has me believe I DESERVE the crappy serving on my plate. Sometimes it seems like the best thing to do is to keep eating and then ask for another helping. Until I get full. Until I have that moment when if I take one more teeny bite, it’s going to get ugly and messy. Spiritual regurgitation is just as messy as physical regurgitation. Know when to say, “No, thank you. I’m full,” and put it on God’s plate and let it stay there.
A while ago I wrote about exercising the Trust Muscle. Putting things on God’s Plate is a strategy to strengthen the Trust Muscle. I encourage you to recognize when it’s time to tell God you’ve had enough. When you begin to worry, and it’s something out of your control, please take it off your tiny plate and put it on God’s Plate. When you do, NO TAKE-BACKSIES. Leave it there and make room on your plate for something more sustaining. Something healthier. Something that will feed your well-being and your soul. Something that you can savor and delight in and ask for a second helping of.