The Proverbial Plate

Hello friends!

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer (or winter, depending on where you are) and are enjoying your families and whatever else God has called you to for these mid-year months.  Our family is finishing up a BUSY summer of support raising and furlough and will be heading back to Russia in a couple of short weeks. It has been one of those times that has been completely packed with blessings, but still completely packed nonetheless, and thus quite tiring. I have visited a number of your blogs from time to time and have noticed that busyness is a trend for many of us during these months, which is why I decided to come and write this post now rather than later. Enjoy!

The Proverbial Plate: Accepting Your Own Capacity


Something that I’ve been mulling over in my mind for a few years now is the concept of individual capacity. One of my best friends was years ahead of me in recognizing that just as God creates our external appearances uniquely, he also creates us with varying capacities. Hearing her experience jump started me thinking on this topic. This is something that I’ve been trying to embrace and examine in my own life, especially with regards to motherhood and ministry. It has been so freeing to try to recognize how God has created me and to be okay with that rather than to compare myself to other moms and be tempted to feel like I am not doing enough.  Like with any refining process, though, I continue to learn this lesson often through trial and error and seeing God lovingly, and sometimes firmly, correct me.

In God’s providence, one of the sermons at our church this summer referenced the very same topic and has continued to convict me to know the size of my proverbial plate and not to live life heaping massive commitments on myself as if I was given a platter-sized capacity, but rather to humbly accept what I would consider my “salad sized plate” capacity that is perhaps more realistic and to live life accordingly.

I wish I could say that I heard this sermon and have lived in light of it without error ever since, but to be honest, the way that I have come to embrace my own capacity more fully was through heaping things onto my agenda a mile high, only to crash and burn into a semi nervous breakdown. We had been running here and there doing tons of very good and fulfilling things, but no matter how much I want to do these things, there is only so much that I can do and still keep my sanity and priorities in check.

My tendency when we are state-side is to run around like crazy seeing everyone and doing everything since these opportunities will no longer exist once we return to Russia. I am also am a bit too worried about what other people might want from or expect of me, and often I would rather live to fulfill other people’s expectations rather than to know and fulfill God’s expectations and to live in His grace.  There are also the many other work related commitments that just seem too important to miss. Enjoying the blessings here, working hard, and desiring to love and bless others are good things, but they turn bad when they become idols to which health, sanity, and priorities are sacrificed.

Thankfully, God has graciously helped me to have a more realistic view of my capacity and has given me the ability to discern more clearly what He is and is not calling me to. Having the self-control from His Spirit to say no to opportunities and to keep more hours in my day open for just being home doing normal life with the kids and to spend better time with God has led to wonderful and needed rest  and relief.

So, I submit this post to you as perhaps a springboard from which to evaluate and pray about your own capacity and current reality. How are you doing at knowing and accepting the capacity that God has given you? Are you piling things too high on your plate? Are you leaving it too empty (which for most moms is not the problem, I know)? I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and current realities with regards to accepting your God-given capacity!

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

7 Responses to “The Proverbial Plate”

  1. 2 Janna July 28, 2009 at 4:34 am

    TOO FULL! I injured myself two weeks ago and can barely lift my babies or empty the dishwasher but I still keep making plans with people. Argh! Why am I doing this? I’m just going to have to cancel. Or maybe I’ll get better overnight? (always an optimist!)

  2. 3 bethany July 30, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    i hope you have had a great time in seattle so far. we sure have, although it’s been very hot! i would still like to maybe meet you in person if you aren’t too busy. maybe a coffee at u-village between naps….also know that if it doesn’t work out, i totally understand as we have also been running around like crazy people! thanks for keeping up the blog though. i know it’s hard.

  3. 4 Kim July 31, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Such a good topic to revisit frequently. I’m at a point right now where our twins just turned one and I feel like things are getting easier in some respects and I’d like to shift some things around on my plate. Thanks for posting this….a great reminder to pray through our commitments and know that it’s okay to say no to things, even great things, in order to serve the Lord and our families the best that we can.

  4. 5 Susan August 4, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Probably something we are all learning and RE-LEARNING…and then re-learning AGAIN. I find it easier to say “no” to things here on HA in the US than on the field…probably because usually if I don’t do it, no one can-will…so we feel the extra burden. I do feel like it is a little break from that burden when we are here for the 1 year.

    Also, my problem is I am always thinking of a million and one good things to do (write a card to so and so, have someone over, etc.) but I have to chose the BEST things with God’s help, since I can’t do them all…again, easier said than done.

    We are all learning with you I am sure. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 6 Richelle Wright August 7, 2009 at 3:52 am

    as a kid, my mom was always fussing at me about my eyes being too big for my stomach… so often, it is still the same – just a different type of plate and different things i’m piling on.

    thanks for this timely reminder.

  6. 7 Ana aka Mrs. Mom August 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Good to see you’re back!!!! I was just stopping by to copy the link for other missionary moms, and saw your latest post… Thank you for the reminder, I really enjoyed this post 🙂 Blessings

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