Limits

Limits.

We have them. Who knew?

Well, actually it turns out most people do, at least somewhere below the surface.
So why do we constantly feel the need to live as if they are not real?

I know that as a mother (ie. cleaner, chief finance officer, housekeeper, cook, interior decorator, child entertainer/comforter/organiser/educator/protector, PR spokeswoman, finder of impossibly lost things (staring you in the face) and medical advisor), I have so many demands on my time.
As well as those listed above – which seem to come as the standard job description, I am also a wife, Jesus-follower, actress, singer, writer and poet.
I love reading and going for walks and to the theatre, among other things, yet I know that fitting all of these into my week is not really possible.

I have limits.

Limited time.
Limited energy.
Limited space.
Limited appetite.
We don’t have to confine ourselves to our current limits forever, there is room to grow, but there is no shame in recognising and respecting your own limits.

Because some limits are based in wisdom.

I am limited to the earth, unable to enjoy solo take-off like that of a bird, because I am not designed the same way. I am told that I cannot leap off a high cliff without any safety apparatus, and expect to reach the bottom unscathed. I am not being stifled by this declaration, but rather protected from untimely death.

If I value my time and energy properly, I won’t cheapen it by trying to spread myself too thinly.
I cannot be meaningfully connected to my eight year old daughter – if I am simultaneously trying to plan our meals, unload the laundry and sing ‘row your boat’ to my baby son. I need to choose one focus for that moment, stop and give it my full attention.

This also means that where I could perhaps push through, continuing with my plans to spend the evening getting ahead by freezer batching a selection of meals/going out to see a friend/watching a movie with my husband, it might be that actually taking an early night because I am tired is not a lame excuse – but rather the truth, because I need to rest.

If you cannot truly say no to something, you are not free to wholeheartedly say yes.

Acknowledging a limit, isn’t the same as quitting.

And quitting something which is no longer working, or which saps you completely, doesn’t make you weak.
It might just be the wisest decision you could make right now.

Loving yourself, particularly when you feel as though you are being pathetic and taking the easy way out, is expressed by how you recognise your limits. Choosing to value yourself and others sufficiently enough to extend grace, until you are in better a position to creatively re-define your boundaries, is both an act of wisdom and defiance.

Our culture likes to convince us that we are gods, able to all things whenever we like, if we would only ‘go for it’. But to learn where you begin and end, where your individual gifts and skills are and are not, will actually yield far greater freedom and joy.

People have figured out how to leap off cliffs in a hang-glider and soar to the bottom. We are capable of re-imagining how things can work, but this kind of re-definition comes by first respecting the current limitations of the situation.

Only when we address these, reflecting on what they can teach us about who we are, can we begin to advance. As we discover where we start and finish, we will feel less of a pull to encroach into another’s territory, and feel more confident to be true to ourselves in the zone we inhabit.

So where are you feeling drained, by living as if you had no limits?

How can you pull back from some things in this new year, in order to better give yourself to what matters more?

Perhaps you will find that there is room for a shift, in order to re-define those limits at a later date, but that in the process you will find a little more joy and peace in your own, beautiful, unique skin.