I love watching street jugglers, the men and women who have a talent for keeping random objects aloft. The other day I saw one at a local market. A man, maybe in is twenties, tossing plates into the air, first three then up to six of them at a time. Watching intently, wondered how many plates he broke on his way to success, but mostly I watched his facial expressions. He began the act with a smile. Then he add another plate, then another, and each time his smile dropped just slightly, and a quick look of concern, a small bead of sweat, then another big smile. In that moment I felt somehow connected to the performer in front of me. I know how it feels to add one more plate and hope that everything stays right where it needs to be. As a parent, there is huge pressure to take on everything that comes my way, and to do it with a smile.
The first time I experienced this feeling my oldest son was just a few months old and I was preparing to go back to work. I remember feeling so stressed. I calmed myself, though, with the thought that soon enough I would adjust and life would get easier. It didn’t take long, however, before I got another plate to juggle. I had another baby. Then I started college, my kids started preschool and little league, and playdates were a thing. Before long I was juggling so many plates, trying to keep everything in the air. My hands were quickly becoming too full, just like the street juggler, and I tried my hardest to make sure I looked happy and in control.
It didn’t last. It couldn’t last.
After years of adding and juggling, I came home from work one night and cried. I confided in my husband that I was overwhelmed, that there was just too much going on, and I did something that changed everything…
I asked for help.
I think it’s interesting that when God created man, he let him live alone for a while. He gave Adam some work to do, kept him busy, but God quickly noticed that people don’t do well alone, even when they have a purpose to fuel them. That’s when he created Eve, a woman who would stand beside him and help him with all that he had to do, and since the very first partnership, there have been so many more people throughout history who prove that two really are better than one.
I’ve known this truth for a long time, but it didn’t resonate with me so deeply until I tried to do so much on my own. God had blessed me with a partner that I wasn’t utilizing. Not wanting to be a burden, I kept all of my plates in the air all on my own until one by one they came crashing down.
That night my husband held me tight and asked what he could start doing to help lighten my load. I was reluctant, but I asked him to start helping with some of the household chores and with the kid’s homework. They were smaller tasks, but the minute he agreed, I could feel so much weight lifting off my shoulders.
It turns out I don’t have to juggle like the street performer. When things become too difficult to do on my own, I can pass some of the plates to someone else who will help me, and so can you. Just like Adam, and like me, you weren’t meant to live life alone. Whether you’re married or not God has put people in you life who can take some of your plates. Connect with fellow christ followers at church, coworkers, or old friends and start doing life together. I’m really glad that I did.