Yesterday I took out all my old dinnerware from the cabinet and replaced it. The experience resembled finding new words to replace over-used words in a manuscript.
What was it about the dishes that brought me unease, that compelled me to purge them? They were not ugly. Swirls of lime green, pink, yellow, salmon, blue and strokes of black, edged the plates in a pattern named Fantasia. I wanted to hang onto them, in a way. I'd been ambivalent about replacing them for more than ten years. Could it be that long? I'd had them for twenty years. I'd find myself perusing tableware at Wayfair, but could never settle on something I liked. Last week, I'd browsed online and a set of ceramic plates, bowls and cups caught my eye, each piece a deep shade of blue, edged in white. They weren't expensive. On impulse, I ordered the set. In a matter of days, the box of dishes sat on my front porch.
As I packed up the old dinnerware, I thought back to when I'd bought the set. I was newly single after a divorce, owned my home. One would have thought I'd feel a sense of pride in all I'd accomplished. But no, I lived with thin threads of anxiety hanging from my life. I could never clip them all away. I kept company with a feeling of dread. "What will happen to me now that I'm alone?" As I wrapped each old and beautiful cup and plate and bowl in newspaper, I remembered that I'd purchased the dishes to symbolize a new season in my life. I embarked on a new beginning, yet lived most days in fear of the future and regret from the past. I believed then that if people really knew me, they would find out what a fraud I was. A pretender. Why, I was no brave soul. In reality I was weak and frightened.
When I looked at the elegant plates each night as I ate dinner, when I saw the medley of colors rimming the plate, that beauty centered me for a few moments. Perhaps that dinnerware represented God's mercy that I could not fully bring myself to receive.
I think those old plates and cups and bowls symbolized a period of convalescence that I'd transcended, now more skilled in receiving from God for greater than ten years. Sometimes it's difficult to pull oneself away from the familiar. Even when familiarity is not necessarily awful, even when it holds a type of beauty. Change can feel awkward, even when its healthy.
Today the new plates and cups and bowls sit inside the cupboard. Their pattern is named Euro. Perhaps this new dinnerware symbolizes God's grace and peace multiplied to me day after day after day. Year after year. No shame. No condemnation. No dread. No fear. I sit drinking coffee. The new cup has a good feel as my fingers curl around its blue perimeter. Freely He gives.