Shannon Dittemore



So, I’m sitting on a bar stool at my cousin’s baby shower and I’m having a heck of a time keeping the plate of hors d’oeuvres balanced on my lap. In one hand is a cup of coffee and the other is attempting to dip these little round crackers in a yummy, but rather stiff mixture of gouda and cranberries.

All the while, the square plate is tipping this way and that. And then of course, the other guests, many I haven’t seen in years, stop by and want to chat or hug, but you know what I’m thinking?

If I move, this plate of gouda is going to splatter all over the floor.

I know, I know. I do. I know what’s going through that perceptive mind of yours. Why don’t you just set the plate down? Or the coffee? Why don’t you find a seat near a table where your hands can be free?

And my answer? I have no idea. I think back on it, and I think, maybe, I was caught up in the balancing act of the whole thing. I’d sat down, with the cup and the plate. I’d made every effort to appear all lady-like and cross my legs. And I’d been quite successful at carrying on a conversation with the few friends that were near me. When others stopped by expecting a hug or a handshake changing my position or my location didn’t even occur to me. Looking for a place to unload some of my yummy cargo, didn’t cross my mind. I was immovable.

Until… (Of course there’s an until!)

Until, all of a sudden, my sister–who was also attempting to balance her plate–lost control, and her bite-sized snacks went tumbling to the floor. Did I help? Nope. I’m still on the wire. Still balancing. I can’t be bothered to move. But, I did laugh. Hey! I wasn’t the only one. We all laughed. But, but. It was my undoing. My giggle was too much for the poor square plate and this thing I’ve spent twenty minutes protecting went skittering to the floor. D’oh!

You know what. While I was bummed about the gouda, I was a bit relieved. No more pretty little crackers. No more dip. Just me and my coffee and nothing left to balance.

I feel like this a lot. In the real world, I mean. Balancing my kids and my husband, my church and my writing. Balancing our schedules and my emotions. Not only do I run out of hands, I run out of energy. The littlest things can throw me off kilter and send the entire balancing act crashing down. Sometimes, it’s only sensible to relinquish my assumed role as a juggling circus clown. Sometimes, it’s only right to set a responsibility down and walk away.

Why this is the last option to run through my mind, I can’t precisely say, but I know it costs me something to let a project go. It costs me a bit of pride. Maybe someone else could balance my life better. Maybe someone else could take the cards I’ve been dealt and find a royal flush where I can only see a disappointed family staring back, but the reality I’ve got to accept is that this balancing act has the potential to kill me.

The Bible has much to say on our priorities, but the one verse that always presents itself when I am overwhelmed and searching for a reprieve is found in Matthew 6.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

When I find myself balancing to the point of silliness, I come back to this verse. It’s like a sieve. I take all my priorities, my responsibilities, my emotions and my frustrations and I dump them into the filter of this verse. If I’m wise–and I do have my moments–I’ll walk away carrying only the things that make it through the other side. All the other stuff, the stuff I choose to balance–out of pride or misguided obligation–I can leave behind with no guilt, no condemnation.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m keeping kingdom things first, the rest of my crazy life seems to fall into place. That’s not to say things aren’t hard from time to time, and I certainly seem to stay busy, but my anxiety level drops. Like the verse says, I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. And what a blessing that is! To let tomorrow care for itself and to take each day as it comes. As the Lord gives it to me.

So, if you find yourself in a place of balancing craziness, take some time to reevaluate. Slide your life through the filter that is Matthew 6:33-34 and allow yourself the freedom to set down some misplaced responsibilities. Be wise enough to know that you can’t balance everything forever. Sometimes setting down that awkward square plate is the only way to really connect with others, and it may be the only way to truly press into the things God has for you.

Which is what we all want, right?



  • Comment by Elizabeth M Thompson — November 21, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    Shannon, thanks for this post. I’m in the process of letting go of some of the responsibilities that keep me perched on the bar stool, struggling to hold on to a teetering plate. Placing those responsibilities into the hands of others is not easy, impossible really, unless I focus on the One who’s hands hold it all.

  • Comment by Lacey — November 22, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

    So applicable to life right now for me! Great illustration! The actual scene was priceless though! 🙂

  • Comment by Steph — December 1, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    I made the blog…YES! Oh, wait….I’m the dork who dropped her plate and ice tea in her lap. 🙂 Love the blog and what a great reminder about evaluating our priorities. Thanks!

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