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Spinning Plates

I have this vivid memory from my childhood of the circus. Sitting under the Big Top felt magical. There were clowns, acrobats, women twirling in the sky, the flying trapeze and, of course, that daring man surrounded by dangerous lions! I was enthralled. There was one act, though, that has stuck with me through the years: the man and the spinning plates.

Now this man would set a stick on the ground, and he’d put a plate on top of the stick and spin it. In my young mind that was pretty impressive for I knew I surely couldn’t do it (though my mother probably hid the good china when we got home). But he didn’t stop with just one plate. He kept adding stick after stick, plate after plate, until he had nearly a dozen plates spinning simultaneously on these sticks. He would run like a crazy man back and forth between all these plates to keep them spinning so they wouldn’t break. Invariably some did, but he’d just grab another plate and keep going. I was fascinated!

I think this memory has stuck with me because I’ve come to realize we can live our lives a lot like this man with the spinning plates. We can get caught up in chasing after all of these things, trying to keep our plates spinning, but invariably we can’t keep up and some of our plates crash and fall. It’s exhausting and futile. And it doesn’t matter how frenetic your pace; you can never do it perfectly.

One of the most freeing moments in my life was when I quit trying to spin the plates and started letting God spin them for me. I just let go and knew my job was simply to show up with a willing heart and a desire to give my best. God’s job was to keep the plates spinning and produce the outcome. Sometimes He allows a plate to crash because I’ve taken on too much. It’s hard initially, but always the right choice long term. Sometimes He’ll use a wobbling plate to teach me about surrender and trust since my instinct is to want to run over and quickly spin it again. Sometimes He’ll add a plate I really didn’t want added, but it ends up becoming a huge blessing in my life.

So now I don’t chase around keeping up with my plates in life – family, work, love, friendship, money, success, hobbies, etc. I pray and offer them up to God. I’m present and I show up, but I let God direct the rest. It’s not always easy; I still find I want to rush in when I see a plate wobbling or shed some tears when a plate has crashed, but it’s worth the internal battle to keep those plates out of my hands! Why? Glad you asked.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:4-7). In a word–peace. And truly, feeling at peace is priceless.

Wishing you a week free of plate spinning and full of God’s peace!

For Further Thought: What is the one plate you are most tempted to want to keep in control of? What drives you to want to keep spinning it on your own? How does this add anxiety to your life? This week, I’d like to encourage you to pray about letting go of this plate and laying it in God’s hands. Ask Him for the strength to let go and trust His outcome, even if He lets the plate crash. I’d love to hear about what you’ve learned through this process so feel free to post or email me at!

Note: For all The Dented Fender followers who reached out to me last week, thank you! My goal is to give a weekly dose of encouragement to help us navigate through life’s challenges in a more whole-hearted, God-centered way. Alas, life doesn’t always cooperate! As a single mom and a business owner, there are rare occasions where, despite prayer and my best efforts, time won’t allow it. In the future, I will post a brief note so you will know. Again, thank you for the emails, calls, etc. It meant a lot to me!

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