She knew from my face.
A good friend of mine, who happens to be a nurse, gave me some healthy love the other day. She asked, “How much do you have on your plate?” She already knew the answer, “too much.”
“Take some of it off.” she said.
“What?” My brain spun…how could I, I mean I could list all that was in my life, in my head but it would cause an explosion of exposition and I didn’t want to, besides, it was mine to carry.
She told me to put everything on the plate, all of it, everything that weighed me down, everything that hurt, everything that kept me from sleeping when I should sleep, from playing when I should play, from being who I should be. Not to just imagine her suggestion, she wanted me to write everything out and put it on a plate physically. She mirrored Christ’s question to the man at the Sheep’s gate with her words.
I could hear, “Do you want to be well?”
The man in the Gospel struggled with infirmities for thirty-eight years and Christ healed him only after asking if the man wanted to be healed, to “take up his matt and walk,” which would also mean getting up and getting to work.
Sin, worry and anxiety parallyzes. It makes us not even will to do the work we can. Admittedly, it took a day to get to it.
The image of the plate kept coming back to me. Wondering if it would work, I immediately sidetracked myself, daydreaming about suggesting it to others who I knew were carrying burdens. However, I knew I needed to do this first for myself. It was given to me for a reason. Did I want to lay down my burdens?
My brain evaded. “It will be hard to find post-its.”
Before I could excuse or indite myself for avoiding trying, I saw a green stack of them.
“I need a plate.” I thought, and went to the kitchen where after unloading the dishwasher, reloading, making lunch for those who saw me and asked, I forgot again about the project.
Sitting down at my desk, I saw the green post-its and went back to the kitchen. At first I thought paper, but no, a real plate needed to be used. I reached for the top on the stack, but it was a metal plate we use for fish. It didn’t feel right, so I fished around for the “You are special today” red plate we use for birthdays and anniversaries. Not a stall honest! This was a project in self love and other love, so it seemed appropriate.
Coming back to the desk with the plate, “I need a pen.” The stubby pencil with a good tip and a highlighter at my desk wouldn’t do. Every step before the doing, proved difficult. Sealing the deal, “We’re doing this,” was the recognition how much I didn’t want to see, how much was on the plate.
I wrote and peeled the stack down to the last two post-its. It would be more poetic if I used them all, but I wrote on the second to last one, “this Sherry, is a load of grief.”
Sorting the stack into what I could do something about and wasn’t what I could only offer to God, the plate remained covered in green post-its. However, she’d been right. Writing them down and taking some off made life feel easier even if nothing had changed.
Scooping all back onto the plate, I needed to do one last part of the exercise.
“Here God.” I needed to pray in my heart. “Here.” and like in confession, “for these and all the worries I don’t even know I’m thinking about, I need Your help. Here. Take them. I want to be made well.” and I took the plate and threw all the notes away in the trash. However, I didn’t throw them away all at once. I stopped with each one and reread it. Amazingly, with each, came an answer of sorts.
For example, overweight was one. “Eat healthier and exercise.” was the immediate thought in my head upon reading it. It’s obvious. It’s true, but somehow, it was an answer. Others were more gentle. They were messages from the Holy Spirit to me, about both the approaches to take, and promises of divine aid where needed. My favorite verse in the Gospel is “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find,” and I have always found it to not simply be a promise, but a literal and instant truth, a lived reality. I’d been sitting by the pool not asking until she asked me to recognize, I needed to ask.
My friend is owed the biggest hug and a lunch date when Covid is a memory, and a phone call in the meantime, because she helped me ask God to clear my plate. Even though all of it remains, He did.