At some point in the distant past, something happened beneath our stove where we store some baking and serving dishes. On the bottom of the stack was a serving plate that shattered.
I don’t know how long it lay beneath the other dishes in a bazillion broken bits, but I just cleaned it up the other night. I don’t remember when we realized what had happened, but we left it that way for a while. Hauling everything out, fussing with broken glass and cleaning the space was easy to put off. It was so much easier to take out the dish or baking sheet that we wanted to use, put it back when it was clean and close the drawer… out of sight, out of mind, no bloody fingertips. How is that anything other than a win?
You’re right. I should have cleaned it up as soon as I noticed it… My “fix-it” mentality should have moved into high gear for our safety and that of the kids… (No children were harmed in the long-term storage of broken glass, by the way.) If nothing else, my borderline OCD tendencies should have driven me to restore order to the drawer. But I didn’t, it didn’t and they didn’t.
And while there are lessons there, those aren’t the lessons for me today.
The glass platter was not an expensive one, but it was beautiful and it was useful. Though we didn’t use it much… it was on the bottom of the pile. Day in and day out, week in and week out, that drawer opened and closed countless times, the serving dishes and baking pans jostling around, sliding back and forth, bearing the weight of the whole pile… really, the platter never had a chance.
It wasn’t used. It continually bore the weight of other dishes. Eventually, all of it together was just too much for the glass and it shattered. Useless, dangerous, broken, forgotten.
Honestly, we should have stored it somewhere else. Just because we could make it fit doesn’t mean that’s where it belonged.
I should not have piled so much on top of it. Baking dishes that were much thicker and heavier. Glass lids on top of those. It wasn’t meant to bear that kind of weight.
I should have used it for its intended purpose. It was designed to hold food, contribute to a meal, to create an atmosphere.
Sure, there are leadership lessons in this and they’re pretty clear. People need to be in places and positions where they can make a difference. They need to have systems and supports that help them manage burdens. They need to be able to celebrate their gifts and talents in ways that build and bring good things. Those are good lessons, too. But those aren’t the lessons for me today.
The lesson for me today is a question that formed in my mind as I was cleaning up the mess.
How close am I to shattering?
How am I dealing with the various pressures in my life? How am I holding up in my relationships and in my responsibilities? How am I learning? How am I living into my best self? How am I growing and helping others do the same?
Or am I the bottom thing in a full drawer? Am I holding more than I was meant to hold and not doing what I am wired to do?
How close am I to shattering?
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.