Spinning Plates

Yesterday I came across a booklet by author and biblical counselor, David Pawlison, called Peace Amid Pressure.  (You can find it here.)

Using Psalm 131 he discussed how to find inner composure in the midst of the stress and busyness of life.

“Oh, Lord,” the psalmist begins, “my heart is not lifted up; my raised are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.”

Any mother who has nursed a baby has a keen understanding of what this psalm means. A nursing child is restless and eager to be fed or comforted. In fact, babies are often more relaxed and content when anyone but Mommy is holding them!

After they’re weaned, though, they sit peacefully on Mommy’s lap or lay quietly on her shoulder. The “oh, you’re the one who feeds me!” attitude is gone. The understandably self-centered baby who looks to Mommy for what she can give often becomes a toddler who likes having her nearby; enjoys talking to and playing with her; and asks her countless questions.  After weaning, the mother-child relationship becomes that…a relationship.

Recently I’ve been under a lot of stress. In fact, it’s taking a considerable toll on me, including elevated cortisol levels, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. When I sit down and think through what’s stressing me, it’s pretty much just normal life stuff: a full schedule; a large family with varying needs and troubles; getting a son off to law school and adjusting to him being gone; practical preparations for my youngest starting college nearby; working part time from home; mid-life changes; serving alongside Benny with our new church; and the daily chores of running a home and serving my family. Nothing abnormal or earth-shattering.

But stressful! Sometimes I feel like the person who is trying to keep plates spinning…while watching some crash to the ground.

I want to have a quiet soul. To sit in my Father’s lap with trusting peace. The psalmist indicates that sinful pride could be at the root of some of my struggles. How much of the stress I’m experiencing is simply because I’m not relying and leaning on God? Am I fretting over things because I somehow think the world is on my shoulders? Do I really think I can effectively keep all the plates spinning around me on my own? When I can’t keep up with everything “perfectly” do I feel I failed and should have done better? Or do I acknowledge my weakness to God and others and run to a throne of grace for fresh strength?

These kinds of questions help me to be honest with my own heart. And that brings conviction, hope and peace. I’ve been running to the throne of grace and finding God’s word to be true: He does help in time of need! The help He extends to the humble (or at least to those who are wanting to be humble!) is promised and given. That alone brings peace.

If you’re experiencing a stressful season in your life, I pray you will join me in seeking to have a still and quiet soul. It’s not something we can do on our own. But God will be faithful to help us! He always does.

Our hope in Him is never misplaced.

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