We have a favorite game at our house called Ker-Plunk. This game consists of a bunch of sticks stuck through a cylinder with marbles precariously placed on top of the bundle of sticks. Each player has a turn to pull one small stick out at a time hoping to avoid letting any of the marbles fall into their section. Inevitably though when the amount of sticks gets too low one of the players will pull the fatal stick that causes all the marbles to come tumbling down.
So it is with life, too often we load ourselves up with things to do, places to be, work to be done, kitchens to paint, kids sporting and after school activities to drive too, church responsibilities to see to and the list goes on and on. We feel just fine as long as all the sticks are in place, but what happens when those marbles get too heavy for the sticks to hold. What if all the things we are trying to do and be and accomplish are too much for our sticks to handle?
As is often the case, our families are the ones who suffer from our plates being too full. We metaphorically over eat until we are too sluggish and unhealthy to have anything left to give to our family and loved ones.
I think that perhaps it is important to priorities what sticks to use and how many marbles to place on top of those sticks. Our first stick I think, should always be personal prayer. Do we start each of our overladen days with prayer and supplication to ask for God’s divine assistance with our load? Do we ask Him to help us shoulder the necessary burdens placed on our shoulders and inspire us to know which ones are not necessary?
Stick number two is to take time for personal things. Take time to ponder, to meditate, to journal, and to study the word of God. Take time to make yourself emotionally and mentally and spiritually capable of the tasks on your stack. Make sure you aren’t neglecting what I believe is innate in most of us…a desire to increase in wisdom and understanding. Understanding of who we are now and who God wants us to be in the future.
My favorite stick is family time. Putting our family first will never be a waste of time or resources. I have discovered that we really do have our children in our homes for such a short time. 18 years really does fly and then they are off living their own adventure and balancing their own marbles. Take time now, while you have them to enjoy them and teach them what they will need to know to be successful at their upcoming balancing act.
There are so many examples of good sticks that we need in place in order to balance all of our load, but I believe prioritizing which sticks we put in first will make that load more manageable. We do need to be careful that we don’t place unnecessary marbles on our sticks. Marbles can be everyday tasks, responsibilities, callings or a stressful work environment. These things we can manage with strong foundations; it is when we throw unnecessary burdens on our stacks however that we begin to drop things. Say no to the occasional favor, be willing to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed, turn off the cell phone and look into a child’s eyes when speaking. Recognize when Satan is convincing you that you are not enough and that you should simply quit.
Unlike Ker-Plunk, In the game life there are no actual losers or winners there are everyday people striving just like you and I to balance their lives and fulfill all of their obligations. May we be ever mindful of what sure foundations must be in place in order for us to avoid losing all our marbles.