I recently had a friend remind me of something I was fond of telling her when we spoke of self care and boundaries (which was often in our two years of sharing life together.) How often Jesus uses my own words to challenge/correct/encourage me. It is as if he says, “You believed this for someone else. Now is the chance to test whether you really believe it is true. Is it true for you? Do you trust me with you?” Even if it annoys me in the moment, I can’t help but appreciate Jesus using this gentle approach to telling my heart what is true. It is hard to be upset all the way when I’m the one who said it.
Anyway, she told me (that I told her) that the disequilibrium we experience is often about what we put on our plates. In each season, the size of our plate varies. Sometimes we have a tremendous platter, where it feels like we can say yes to much and all sorts of things can fit into our schedules. There is so much that is life-giving and we are often achieving a lot.
Yet there are times when all we have is a humble dinner plate, able to fit some things but not everything we might like. We say yes to some, but no to some as well.
And even smaller still is the fragile, small saucer for a tea cup. In comparison to other seasons, this feels so little and we must say no to so much that is good (and might have been healthy in a platter or dinner plate season). It can feel so discouraging to struggle to hold that saucer, when it already feels dainty and like so much less than ever before.
Before our move in September, I would have said I felt like I was in a tea cup saucer season, coming out of a dinner plate season with Residence Life. My life felt smaller, simpler, deeper and more unseen this past year. I imagined my saucer feeling about the same or even growing back into a dinner plate with the move to our own home. I imagined that I would regain energy and be able to handle more again. The move would coincide with second trimester beginning, which made me imagine an increase in energy.
But the truth is that I feel diminished yet again. I feel like I traded in my saucer for a doll’s saucer. Hardly anything fits on this tiny plate. Things seem to spill off at a moment’s notice, things that fit only a few months ago, when I thought I was so small already. As Jesus used the reminder of the plates to speak truth to my heart, it was if he asked me if I trust him with this tiny doll saucer he has given me these days.
Do I trust him if all I can hold feels so small compared to other seasons, even ones that I thought were my smallest?
Do I trust him with myself, even if I feel perpetually tired and empty and small?
Do I trust him to take care of the things I can’t (and used to)?
Do I trust him to rest and nap and be as slow as I need to be to be healthy for THIS season?
Do I trust him enough to stop comparing myself to others’ plates, or even my own in other seasons?
So, that’s where my heart is these days, swimming in the disequilibrium of this tiny doll saucer. Some moments, I am okay with doing so little. I’m okay with the reality of being pregnant with a toddler. I am okay that I need to do so much less than any other time in my life. I am okay that my days are so simple and still so exhausting. I am okay naming that it is brave to take a shower and make food for hungry people and potty train, and for that to be all my day holds. I am okay being weak and letting Jesus help me with all I lack.
Yet, other times, I’m not doing well at all. All my energy is gone and yet there’s still grief and frustrations that require something of me. There’s still dinner to be made. There’s potty training and friends who I care deeply for. And I feel as though I have nothing left. I’m constantly exhausted and get annoyed that I am so tired and always need to save time for a nap. I don’t turn straight to Jesus and let my feelings rule me, even for a few moments. Having grace for myself has always been a challenge, and this feels like Jesus has pushed me into the next level in his school, and boy, it is hard.
Jesus gave me these verses, this simple prayer by a desperate man and they’ve been what I cling to in these doll-saucer days.
For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
I love this beautiful permission to be overwhelmed at what is coming and permission to not know what to do; and yet the reminder that the choice is always mine.
Will I look to the Lord in spite of my feelings?
Will I look to the Lord in spite of what I don’t know and feel overwhelmed by?
Will I look to the Lord no matter how big or small my plate is?
I’m choosing this prayer for my own heart these days.
I’m also reminding myself of what happens after this prayer.
The Lord fights for his people. Against all odds, against all probability, the Lord conquers and protects and guards. The command given isn’t for some battle action. The instruction to God’s people isn’t for more fighting and mustering and trying.
The command is instead for courage and trusting that the Lord is with us.
Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you. (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)
As we enter the Christmas season, I’m asking for this truth to reign in my heart and in my own doll-saucer plate. I’m asking for Jesus to help me be brave and trust that he is with me. I’m asking for Jesus to help me not fight, to muster and try and battle on my own. I’m asking for Jesus to help me to not be afraid and to believe that I am not alone.
And I’m asking for Jesus to help me do what his people did in 2 Chronicles 20; they thanked him even before anything had changed. They praised the Lord despite their own feelings and fears.
And that is possible, I’m convinced, no matter how big or small our plates may be.
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”(2 Chronicles 20: 21)