When I was a kid, I used to love building towers out of crayons. I would build a foundation and then assemble as many crayons as I could in a sort of log-cabin-esque structure in an upward fashion. They were cool, I practiced my fine motor and balancing skills, and it entertained my siblings.
If you've ever built one of these structures then you know that they aren't the most stable in the world. They are fun to build, pretty to look at, but eventually the shaky foundation gives out. If the foundation doesn't roll away then one of the crayons from the upper levels scooches out of place. When either of these things happen - everything comes tumbling down.
Think, if you will, of a beautiful piece of China and a bountiful Thanksgiving buffet. As you go through the buffet everything looks so delicious that you just have to try it. You take so much onto your plate that you're cramming it onto the edges and the roll has to go on top of the stuffing... wait... no... then you can't pour gravy over the top. So the roll goes to the side of the plate, half off the edge. Now the beautiful China is completely covered - you may have well just used a paper plate. You have overwhelmed your plate with food... and likely, if you clean it off, are left with a stomach ache.
These two illustrations, I think, are a good summation of what happens when we take too much on our plates. When we add too many things onto the structure of our lives.
We become overwhelmed with all the things in the balance and our sanity comes tumbling down. We get so full that we end up emotionally or spiritually sick and unable to move.
When we talk about the clutter in our lives and we talk about how it's so much more than stuff - it is so true. It's amazing how the emotional and spiritual clutter that we often stack onto ourselves can cause instability in so many areas.
The reasons we have for not offloading the items on our plate are many. "But they're counting on me", "If I don't do it, no one else will", "No, it needs to be done this way and only I know how to do it". These reasons are incredibly selfish and prideful sounding, aren't they? Are we really that important to the fabric of society that the walls will crumble if we cease to exist from an area of it?
When we made the decision that I would come home from work to take care of the kids full-time, I felt so many of these things about my job. Because of the way I "ended" my time in the office (my blood pressure had become unstable in the last weeks of pregnancy and I was forced to work from home with several rest-breaks throughout the course of the day), I was unable to tie loose ends, finish projects I was working on, and had several files of backlogged to-do items that I had guilt were incompleted. I had to make a choice to add on to the adjusting of being a stay-at-home-mom to attempt to clean everything up or I had to let it go and trust that those who would come after me would do the best job they knew how for the customer and the company.
Guess what? The work got absorbed, the customers were taken care of, and no one complained to me it wasn't perfect before I left. I've maintained the relationships with some of the people I worked with and no harm was done by letting it go. This applies to so many areas of our lives. Yes, we are called to serve, to love one another, and to make sure we take care of each other - I am not arguing that. Are there things that maybe only we know how to do - sure there are, but shouldn't we train someone else to do those things? Will the gears of society stop turning and the Earth stop rotating on its axis when we leave this life and meet Jesus in Heaven?
The things that we've taken on our hearts, our schedules, our to-do lists? If we let go of the unnecessary ones or the ones we need to release to pay more attention to the things God has called us to RIGHT NOW - someone else will pick them up. If they're not necessary, then it won't matter anyways. If we let go of the wrong things and need to readjust - God will make that obvious to you.
Evaluate your plates and decide if you've got too much on them. Throw away the roll and skip the... no, don't skip the gravy - but maybe don't take so much stuffing. Don't build your crayon towers or houses of cards too high. Use steady hands to build your structures and make sure you leave ample room for dessert. You can't do that with shoddy materials or too much of the dinner buffet taking up space in your stomach.
It's OK to let it go.