Too Much on Our Plates

“You do not have to eat everything on your plate.” Collins looked at me in amazement when I said this to her while our family was out one night eating at our favorite pizza joint!! The boys were too busy eating to see the look on her face. Our family is competitive no doubt. Collins was just toddling along after our boys in just about everything in life, from golf to eating. I had to stop her!!

After we got home that night, I gently tried to explain to her how much I loved her wanting to follow her brothers around and be like them in golf but she didn’t have to be like them when it came to eating!! As a side note (even though this journal is not about weight management I will explain myself here): I continued to point out that boys had more lean muscle tissue than girls and that they normally required more food than girls. I also pointed out that she was not going to be any taller than me and that just paying attention to the little things like “not always cleaning her plate” would help her in maintaining a healthy weight. I had to point out that 2 pieces of pizza were probably enough for her, not 5 to 6 like the boys normally inhale.

What does cleaning your plate look like in life??? Maybe, just maybe, you can’t clean your plate in life because you have toooooo much on it?????? I can remember loving to eat macaroni and cheese growing up. Putting lots of it on my plate and before it was gone I would reach for more. Eating lunch at my grandmother’s table one Thursday, a childhood tradition, I reached for more mac and cheese. My mom said, “Sherry, you already have some on your plate” I turned and said, “I don’t want to run out!!!!!” Maybe we put too much on our plate out of Fear of running out, meaning fear of saying no, or fear of failure, or trying to do what everybody else is doing (keeping up with the Joneses). Whatever the reason, we can all be guilty of putting too much on our plate. Or better said, BEING TOO BUSY!

I can remember a couple in our church who taught Sunday School for young married adults, Phillip and Mary Lou. I learned so much from them. One of their famous quotes to me as a young mother eager to do it all was, “Learn to say NO with a SMILE!” I can remember having 2 young boys at the time and wanting to serve in church, go to a weekly Bible study, teach, exercise, etc. I had said yes too many times and I was feeling overwhelmed. They counseled me on how to seek what God would have me do. Just because the invitations came didn’t mean I had to say yes to everything. The old spreading yourself too thin, not living the Scripture of Back 9, which is Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” That really helped me. At the time I was still a “people pleaser”. I learned to filter all the requests of my time through Prayer with God. It protected my heart which resulted in protecting what I did with my time.

I will have to say that at some time over the course of the last 15 years I didn’t do a very good job of protecting time and the wheels came off. It is very, very, very important to focus on God. Allow HIM to be first and direct your path, not MAN!! The Pharisees were very busy keeping up with what man said they should be doing. They were so focused on man that they missed out on what God really wanted them to be doing. In Acts 5:29 the apostles remind them what believers should be doing. “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

As I have worked at “guarding my heart” to do what God would have me to do, I have incorporated John Wooden’s quote, “IF you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” For me this means keep enough on my plate to “embrace life to the fullest” and “maximize my gifts and abilities” but not so much that my efforts would be in Vain. Rick Warren calls it your S.H.A.P.E: S-spiritual gifts, H-heart/passion, A-abilities, P-personality, E-experiences.

As the years have gone by, I have failed at this miserably sometimes. I am currently in the “process” of living and teaching our kids to examine their “plate of life!” Desiring them to understand a “healthy plate” might mean less!!! I love to say God calls different folks to different “strokes”. Just as in golf you can hit the same shot “different ways” and get the same “great outcome”. I encourage you the reader to examine your plate of life. Ask yourself:

  • Is there too much? Not enough?
  • Are there too many starches (bad stuff)?
  • Do I need more vegetables (good stuff)?
  • Or do I need meat, something a little harder to chew (a challenge or a stretch)?

We worry we won’t do enough or we won’t do the right things. Jesus reminded Martha of what is most important in Luke 10:41-42. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

God will show you, if you earnestly look. I would desire none of us to be “FAT” IN LIFE BY HAVING TOO MUCH ON OUR PLATES AND BEING OVERWHELMED WITH CONSISTENTLY TRYING TO CLEAN IT!

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