Okay, so now I can't get the circus out of my mind. See, I wasn't kidding about being visual. :) It's an early-grade-teaching thing. Everything becomes visual.
My daughter is visiting with me. She came from the other side off the country to surprise me for my birthday. Best gift ever! You met her here in The Princess and the Lieutenant. My sweet grafted-in son loves me very much to do without his beloved for two whole weeks. I love him big like that right back.
So, she and I are going on adventures. Today is a car ride to make a visit with family who we haven't seen for a couple of years. It's a happy visit. You may remember that Sarah is mini-me. She thinks very much like me. We are kindred spirits. We are so much alike it is frightening. At least, it should be frightening for her. Bless her heart! She is driving. And we talk. Deep stuff. It's good.
We talked about where our lives were twenty years ago. She was just a young girl. I was a very busy mom. I had five children and taught two grades in Christian school. I love the children who I taught almost as though they were mine. My husband and I ministered to the teens and I was involved in their lives as well. The teens had my heart, too. I had the responsibilities that go along with being staff wife, and then friendships and extended family and financial worries and...
Okay, I was busy. You get it. And I often have described those days with a circus illustration.
Remember that circus guy who would stick a long skinny pole into the sand, and then would balance a plate on the top and spin it real hard? Then he would stick another pole in the ground, balance another plate on the top of that pole, and spin it real hard. He continued very quickly, adding poles and spinning plates. But what became fascinating was that he would run back to the first plate and give it another spin to keep it going just as it slowed enough to fall. Always watching and re-spinning. All of the while, adding more and more plates without allowing any of the earlier ones to fall to the ground.
One would slow to a wobble. You knew for sure that plate was doomed. But just in the nick of time he would get to it and it would spin with new life, avoiding the crash that seemed certain to come. And still, all the while, adding more poles and plates to the crazy spinning field of awesomeness. It was amazing.
Many times when I talked to a friend or spoke to a group of ladies, I described my life that way. I was that circus man, with a field of plates that I relentlessly kept spinning. Every plate was good and important and dear to my heart. I was a good plate spinner. I have no regrets. Not one.
But the lesson of the plates is a simple one. Unlike that circus man, I could not continue to add more poles and plates. People will always ask you to do more. And if you are anything like me, it is difficult to say no. No to someone who truly needs you. No to a work that would make a difference in someone's life.
Can you go to court with us and testify as to your student's outstanding performance and well being in our custody case (and you, in good conscience, cannot testify to either of those things as truth)? Will you speak at our Ladies of Busy Hands and Hearts conference? Can you help me cut out these seven-hundred-and-sixty-two mice that I need for my Sunday School bulletin board? Oh, and add the little moving googly eyes for me, because you are so good at that? Will you go visit my Aunt Bertha's second cousin, who has been in church all of her life but now has a crisis because the fingernails on her right hand chipped all at the same time and she had just paid for a manicure? She is depressed.
And you get to the place where you just have to say no.
No! I'm sorry. I can't. I'm not selfish. I'm not mean. I am the most caring and compassionate person you are ever going to meet. I love the Lord and I would love to help. But I just can't today.
I am already spinning enough plates. And those plates are of tremendous importance to me. They are my life and my breath. And if I take on even one more, then I risk not being able to keep the important ones spinning. They just might fall off and break. I can't let that happen.
No, I'm sorry. I just can't today.
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