Is Your Plate Too Full?

It was only Monday morning. I woke up an hour before the alarm, and my brain was already racing through my mental to-do list. Going back to sleep wasn’t going to happen, so I slipped out of bed and began to tackle the day.

hand-565588_1920By the time the kids got up, I was already in high gear and wondering how I’d ever get it all done. A quick assessment allowed me to cross a few things off and move a few others to another day. But those days were already crammed and I was afraid I’d end up not getting to it altogether, so worry began to press in. There are bills to pay, appointments to make, lessons to teach, calls to make, and…

The intrusive voice: “Mommy! Did you hear me?…”

Really? Can’t they see how busy I am? “WHAT?” I snap.

“I just didn’t know if you wanted me to make you eggs,” came the convicting sweetness of my 11-year-old.

UGH!!! Guilt is now heaped on top of busy-ness and worry, and I feel like poop. So I soften outwardly and crumble inwardly. “No thank you Honey.”

I grab the phone to make what should be a 3 minute call that turns into 30 and by the time I’m off my heart is racing, my brain is full, and my emotions are about to leap off the sanity edge.

And it’s only 8:30. I grab another cup of coffee and plunge further toward disaster.

Have you played out this same scenario with different characters? If so, then let me tell you, it doesn’t have to be this way. These moments are our little reminders to reassess our priorities, re-evaluate our schedules, and re-tweak (or as in my case—overhaul) our to-do list.1

I wish I could say I did all that on Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday were near repeats before the ah-ha moment kicked in. By then, I was in panic-mode. I went to bed exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, and irritated with everything and everyone.

So I had a desperate, late night cry session with the Lord over my too long to-do list. I was plagued by my inconsistent involvement in the girls’ schooling and by my not being “in the moment” with my family. I asked God how in the world to accomplish it all. After all, there is just one of me.

Can’t anyone understand that? I can’t do it all!

And there it was: Truth in five words.

I can’t do it all.

And thankfully I don’t have to.

And in that moment of clarity was the scripture, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36) My children are intricately linked to my soul and I knew the Lord was telling me I was tending too heavily to the wrong areas while neglecting the one I know is to be my focus–my family.

What the Lord convicted me of is this: I can work tirelessly in many arenas and even achieve “success” through them, but unless it is what He has purposed, it will have little value and come at a cost.

You see, when you gorge yourself from a plate that is too full, you lose the ability to truly taste anything and you have two choices. You can stuff yourself until you’re too bloated to enjoy any of it (and likely end up vomiting a big mess). Or you can choose a few things to savor more fully.

So, if awareness is the first step, what’s next? For me, it’s getting a clearer picture of my priorities. I haven’t done that yet, but I hope you’ll check out 3 Steps To Putting First Things First and together we’ll learn how to take a few good items off our plates to fully enjoy the best.

I’d love to hear about how you manage all that’s on your plate. Please comment below some strategies you use or if, like me, you struggle to reign in your to-do list.



7 thoughts on “Is Your Plate Too Full?

  1. Well, I have the awareness, but I’m not so great at maintaining next steps. I’ve gotten much better at saying “No” which is immensely helpful. Another important thing I’m learning is to not beat myself up when I get overwhelmed by all that’s not done, because that just makes everything more complicated and actually slows me down even further. I’m in a rearranging priorities season, and enjoying doors God is opening, and closing. It’s not always easy to differentiate between the good things and the best…
    I so identified with your,
    The intrusive voice: “Mommy! Did you hear me?…”
    Really? Can’t they see how busy I am? “WHAT?” I snap.
    and the guilty outward softening and inward crumbling.


    • Oh Melinda, sometimes it’s just nice to know I’m not the only one, so thank you! Trust me I often find myself in that rearranging stage :-). I do so well for a season, but then I fill my plate with more good things until I can’t keep up with it all and have to start over. When I find that I’m not enjoying everyday life and those in it, for me, that’s my signal. So that’s where I am right now. And you’re right–guilt for all that’s left undone is counterproductive, but that’s one I’m still working on too :-). Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rita, I so, so, so, struggle with this. I think every mommy wishes there were more hours in the day. Thank you so very much for the reminder that we don’t have to “be all.” I learned at some point that this mentality of doing it all truly devalues God’s providence in our lives. So often I forget that He is with me and more capable than I am. I think that comes from being in hyper drive in an effort to get it all done. I am immensely grateful that you reminded me that I only have to do some and truthfully what is most valuable to me personally. Not everything else that everyone else thinks I ought to be doing.

    At the end of the day if we have communed with His Spirit and invested in our children and husband (for those who are blessed to have one) then we have absolutely had a successful day. All the other things that are additional to those two just have to be secondary and if we can somehow learn to make them less important we will sleep a whole lot easier.

    As I typed that I got a vision of two separate “to do” lists. One that contains the things we value most and another loaded with all the extra demands swirling in our head that will always be there and continue to grow. I think I might try two separate lists. See if I can be more effective at investing in what is most valuable to me.

    Again, Rita, thanks for your wisdom and perspective. {{{HUGS}}} Heather


    • So good to hear from you Heather. You are always so full of good things :-). I constantly have that battle of being in “hyper-drive” and usually it doesn’t feel like a burden. But when it becomes that, then I know I have to step back and analyze. If Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, then if I’m feeling a heavy burden, I know I’m carrying more than I need to be. I know in the end, what my family has to say about me is far more important than what the rest of the world might have to say. I try to live with that in front of me.


  3. I so agree with this. In the past couple of months, I stopped multitasking so much while taking care of my 3-yr-old and 1-yr-old and instead just enjoyed time with them. At the end of the day, I got a little less done but I felt so much more fulfilled! By prioritizing what God wants me to focus on instead of the things I think will make me happy, I found the happiness that has been eluding me for so long. But it’s still a daily lesson. I love being productive and being able to check tasks off a list. Investing in people isn’t very task-oriented!


    • Those are some of the wisest words I’ve ever heard: “Investing in people isn’t very task-oriented.” Wow! You are right. And I am a very task-oriented person who likes to cross items off my to-do list. But, when my children are all around me and wanting my eye-to-eye time, I’ve learned the to-do list becomes a great tyrant and robs me of my joy. Thanks so much for sharing that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: 3 Steps to Putting First Things First | Mothers With A Mission

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