The next three feet in life have taken a couple bends in the road for us recently, resulting in an overdue silence in my writing. Chad has been in the process of changing jobs. I’m still at the zoo, but I’ve also begun some editing work for Morning by Morning (check it out!). We both are on the administrative team for our church’s youth camp (with just a week left to plan, it’s crunch time). And we thought we might as well just call ourselves crazy and sign up for a marathon (or rather, a half for me… which is scary enough). These things alone on top of the regular rhythms of housework, errands, relationships, and fighting for quality time together have filled our calendar and left us sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, frazzled, teary, impatient… limited.
And I have been fighting these limits. What I justify as “God-honoring” efficiency, energy, and pursuit of excellence are actually shaky attempts to earn glory for myself by attempting to do all and be all. Essentially, I am trying to be my own omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god. And yet, I simply cannot be what only He is. I am limited.
Reading through Jen Wilkin’s book None Like Him (highly recommend!) with a couple ladies, the piercing truth presented in her chapters on God’s omnipresence and omniscience brought me to tears. As she expounds these characteristics of God, she also puts in perspective how feeble my striving is:
“We call it ‘multitasking’ or ‘efficiency’ and it certainly can be those things. But it’s important for us to do a reality check every now and then regarding what we are asking our makeshift omnipresence to give us. Because no matter how advanced we become, we can never be everywhere fully present… When we reach for omnipresence ourselves, we guarantee that we will be fully present nowhere, spread thin, people of divided attentions, affections, efforts, and loyalties.” – Jen Wilkins
As I try to be everywhere, do everything, keep all the plates spinning, while still adding more, I end up being nowhere fully, doing nothing well, and tears come crashing down along with the plates.
Another plate goes and tears fall when I go over on the grocery budget for the month (yet again), no matter how much I seem to plan. Another plate goes when Chad harmlessly expresses desire for us to be more active, which I interpret as I should already have been training like an Olympic athlete; I should have had the discernment to see and do this myself – I should have, should have, should have. Another plate goes when I scroll through my news feeds, suffering from what Jen Wilkins calls “analysis by paralysis” – a constant fear that there is another piece of information out there that will invalidate my current choice of: the food I buy, the way I serve others, the way I do my make-up, the ways to raise children when that time comes, the ways I love my husband, and so on. More I could be doing, more I need to know, more to make me anxious and troubled, more, more, more! But as Jesus says, “only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42).
That one thing is to accept the limits I have been fighting so hard against and surrender to a limitless, good God who has given me good limits for a reason. My attempts to keep the plates spinning are simply manifestations of fear – fear that I won’t be enough, do enough. What I forget is He has done enough. Isaiah 51:13 says that the wrath of the oppressor causes us to ” fear continually every day,” just as I fearfully spin plates everyday. But Isaiah goes on to rhetorically ask, “But where is the wrath of the oppressor?” To which my mother so aptly reminded me recently: It is crushed under the feet of Jesus!
Jesus limited himself willingly in the feeble form of a man, including man’s greatest limitation: death. But then, He defied all limits when He lived a sinless life, sacrificed himself on the cross, and then defeated death by being raised to life, paying the price I owe for being a sinful plate spinners. Why? That we too may experience the limitlessness that is union with God, forgiveness by God, love by God. And as The Message paraphrases 1 John 4:18, “There is no room in perfect love for fear.” I need not fear not doing, knowing, or being all, for in Christ, I have all and “live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28). There’s no room for fear! Do you see this paradox? I’m trying to anyway. God has given us limits in order for us to rely on His limitlessness more, and by doing so, we have unlimited freedom to fully live where He has placed us, doing what He has us to do, and being who He has redeemed us to be:
When we trust him as fully present everywhere, we are finally free to be fully present wherever he has placed us – face-to-face with those we love, seeking the face of God. – Jen Wilkins
Any or all of my plates falling to shambles can be a place of great joy, because then maybe I’ll finally be willing to let God help me piece them back together and spin them the way He knows is best. The darkness is as light to him, after all (Psalm 139:12). My prayer is that the peace of Christ would rule in my heart (Col. 3:15), instead of fear; that this peace would rule when we look at the budget, when I have to walk during one of my runs, when I scroll through Instagram tempted to compare, when I feel like I have to strive. My prayer is as the song says: “Help me now to live a life that’s dependent on your grace. Keep my heart and guard my soul from the evils that I face” – the evils of attempting to be what only God can be, to be self-sufficient and cling to control, to keep the plates all spinning. My prayer is that I will learn that there is freedom in our limitation because of His limitlessness.