When everything comes crashing down

You know all those plates you’re spinning, my friend? They started out pretty cool, I know. At first, it was fun. It was exciting. Everything was humming along, and you had it all under control. But somewhere along the way, a plate started to wobble. Things weren’t going so smoothly anymore and little by little, more and more plates began to wobble. It’s not so fun anymore, is it? In fact, it’s exhausting. It takes everything in you to keep them spinning. The joy of seeing a spinning multitude of plates has worn off, replaced by anxiety and the fear of dropping them. How long can I spin them, you wonder? How long before one of them falls, you ask? When will this dizzying descent begin, you question?

I don’t know about you, friend, but I have “been there, done that,” more than once and it is exhausting and overwhelming. Far too often, I have over-committed myself and regretted it, but continued anyway. We live in a society that applauds and reveres the busy. We are judged on how many commitments we can scroll through on the calendar. We pride ourselves on our insane schedules and compare agendas like it’s a competition.

But then something happens in your life that causes you to do a double-take, something that forces you to slow down. Because. Admit it. You wouldn’t slow down if it wasn’t for something catastrophic. If it wasn’t for the life-altering moments that slam the brakes on our fast-paced itineraries, we’d continue to careen throughout this cosmic universe thinking we had it all under control.

Until a plate drops.

Until something comes whizzing along through the air, knocking off the plates from their balancing pole.

My something?

My mother’s sudden, unexpected, violent death.

All the plates I had been spinning came crashing down on Oct. 10, 2018.

And I’ve been here before, in this land of grief, drowning on the continent of loss. I know the devastation, the million shattered pieces of your life that scatter like a glass dish onto the kitchen floor, into corners and areas you only discover months later hold tiny, sharp remnants of a once-complete plate. I am all too familiar with the effort, the faith, and the work (my God, the work!) it takes to recover, to heal.

But those devastations? Those griefs? The tsunamis that wreck your life, take your breath away, twist your world? They are the things that undo you. They are the unmaking of you, but also the very re-making of you. When your life feels like a pile of dust, the remains of “after” resembling crumbled, unrecognizable bits of your “before,” then know this: God will use the dust of everything that’s fallen apart and make something new, as only He can do. Only God purposes to create beauty from ashes. Satan would love nothing more than to incinerate and obliterate, but God loves nothing more than to regenerate and initiate. God begins something new with every ending. We must remember that God’s story is life, death, life.

The resulting plates that fell, for me, were numerous activities, committees, and extra-curricular engagements. None of these things, in and of themselves, are wrong.

But times of grief, in reality, are really times of rest.

Grief is an opportunity to sit, like Mary, at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10: 38-42) It’s a chance to choose the “good part.” In our busyness, we can choose to keep spinning plates, be distracted with all our preparations like Martha, even blame God, insisting that He doesn’t care, or we can choose to rest. We can allow grief, hardship, and trial to be a time of rest. We can rest at the feet of Jesus. Because HE is the good part.

Amid the dizzy spinning of plates, the sudden crashing of platters, when everything falls apart, will we choose the good part? Will we seek Jesus? Will we choose to sit at His feet? In trying circumstances, we can distract ourselves or extract ourselves. May we extract to do what Mary did…stay close to Him.





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