Ever played the orange-balancing game? Players see how many oranges (or in this case mandarins) they can stack on a tea-plate, then try to stand up, turn around and sit down without dropping any. It’s trickier than you might imagine.
Sometimes my life feels a lot like this. There are so many oranges: so many things yelling for my urgent attention, so many people that need me to do something, or be somewhere, or find their shoes…
There are days when I think that if someone tries to balance one more orange on top of the pile (just one more) I might yell, throw the whole lot up into the air and storm away to some imaginary place of peace (maybe some arid place where no-one has ever even seen an orange).
I don’t of course, I just keep on balancing and dropping… And avoiding people who might have oranges in their pockets that they want me to carry.
I’ve slowly learned over the years that it helps to pray about things. So I was moaning to God the other day about all the problems and worries and things to do (he called some of them blessings and opportunities, but I wasn’t in a totally positive frame of mind) and telling him how I really needed FEWER oranges thank you very much, or I couldn’t be held responsible for the mess I was going to make on the pavement, when he suddenly stilled my heart and whispered a word of great wisdom and encouragement:
“Get a bigger plate”
“There are bigger plates?” I asked incredulously, “I hadn’t thought of that”
So it’s led me to a lot of thinking this week about what ‘plates’ might be made of, and how you could go about growing yours to fit your needs. And my thoughts are, in no particular order:
- Take care of yourself. Mentally, and physically, as much as you are able. It makes a difference. I hesitate to say this, given the shape I’m currently in, but it really is true that exercise gives you more energy. I don’t know how exactly, but I get more done on days I’ve made it to the gym. Invest time into your mental health too, play, create things, get enough sleep, drink more water. All of these things grow plates.
- Take care of yourself spiritually too. Pray! Walk as closely to Jesus as you can, not as far away as you can get away with, take time in God’s presence every day, even if it’s just a little bit.
- Choose wisely. Ask for wisdom so that you can make good choices and walk in them. Don’t try to be superman, or superwoman, supermum, superdad or superpastor. If you don’t get what I mean by that please read this.
- Finally, grow your faith. Faith is like water that goes granite-hard just as you step out onto it. It gets stronger, wider and more weight-bearing the more you use it. If you never step out onto the water, maybe you’ll never get to learn that it can take your weight?
I pray that if you are balancing oranges, you’ll find ways to grow a bigger plate. That your current burden would become a breeze to balance, and that you would be able to learn to let Jesus take responsibility for the weight. I pray also for those days when oranges fall, that you would be enveloped in a grace that enables you to trust our Good Father -the ultimate expert fruit-catcher.