A few months ago while eating at a buffet restaurant, I was watching a young family choosing their food. One of the little girls in this family had taken her plate and insisted on filling it herself. She had chosen a little of everything and a lot of some things. She was so delighted to be filling her own plate and she cheerfully exclaimed over many of the items she was going to try for the first time and did a little happy dance for the items that were her favorites.
Meanwhile, her sister seemed so content to let her mother fill her plate. Her mother would bend down a little and say something like, “oh, here, you’ll like this” or “this is one of your favorites” and the little girl would hold her plate up and let her mother put a little dollop of the food on her plate.
After everyone had their plate filled the family sat down. They were just a few tables over from us so I could hear some of their conversations. The little girl who had filled her own plate now had a problem on her hands. Some of the foods she had scooped up were now touching one another which was clearly not okay. And she wanted to try everything, but she struggled to pick which one to start with. She talked and talked and talked, but only ate a few bites of the food on her plate. I think she was overwhelmed by it all.
That day, as I watched it all unfold, I felt bad for the mother who was trying to coax the girl to eat this large plate of food and for the little girl who had entirely too much on her plate to know where to begin. And then I realized that this is how many of us live our lives.
We want to try everything in life. We’ve been told that we SHOULD try everything in life. We should have a career, and a family and homemade cookies for the bake sale and a hand-painted tray to put them on. We should have the latest color schemes throughout our house and our kids’ rooms should be themed and our cars should be safe and good for the environment and it’s okay to make payments on this car until the day you sell it.
We’ve been told that we should see the world and explore our own backyards. We’ve been told that we should serve others, so we say yes to everyone who asks us to be on a committee. We should love others, so we never say no to helping someone. We’ve been told that being busy makes us important.
So we keep piling more and more things on our plates. We may exclaim excitedly over new things we’ve never tried before and we may even do a little happy dance about the favorite things we get to do. But when it comes right down to it, we’re often too overwhelmed by all that’s on our plates to enjoy any of it.
At least this is how I sometimes feel. And I wonder if it would be better to let God fill my plate. To wait patiently for Him to look at all the options in this buffet of life until He says, “here, you’ll like this.” He won’t overload our plates so that things start “touching” and overlapping. He leaves plenty of space on our plates so we know just what to pick first and allows us time to savor it.
What’s on your plate this week? I hope whatever you are doing, you take time to savor it!
Dig deeper: Mary was just a teen when the angel of the Lord came to her, but she was wise for her years. It says in Luke 2:19 that Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. She often thought of the events and the visitors and how they described her newborn son. Some translations say she “thought deeply” or “continually thought of them”. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates is as meditating. No matter which words we use, we know that Mary made time in her life to ponder, to think, to meditate on what the Lord had given to her. We, too, would be wise to clear a corner of our plate for pondering, thinking, and meditating.
In Psalm 119 the psalmist repeatedly talks of meditating on God’s precepts and statutes, His wonders and His promise. This sounds like a great place to start in my life too. Take a few minutes today to ponder anew what He has done.