Limits

If there’s one thing that a nice, long summer holiday can teach you, it’s that we all have limits!

Fill in the gaps for yourself:

There are limits to how much spending/mess/bickering/clutter/adventure/organising/day trips/food/sleeplessness/work/failure/achievement/expectation_____ I can handle.

I recently read this – about knowing our limits – by Micha Boyett (If you’ve not signed up for her newsletter, then do, by the way): https://mailchi.mp/6b94c8feded0/the-slow-way-newsletter-7251570?e=2b2b05717b

I was blown away by its relevance in my life right now. Phrases like “I am more than what I do”; “Being gentle with my time… is not waste, it’s wisdom” and “embrace my limitations as gifts from God” had me holding my breath, my heart beating, my whole inner world screaming “yes! This, this is what I need to drink in right now.”

Acknowledging our limits can feel more than a little uncomfortable. We want to feel like superheroes, people who are needed and respected. We want to feel that we can “manage”. That we can “earn” or deserve: money, respect, love even. To feel strong and independent. Capable. Worthy.

Unfortunately (fortunately?), we’re not made like this. We’re not made for this world of achievement and individualism. That kind of life simply does not work, and it does not satisfy or fulfil us.

In the words of CS Lewis, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can fill, the most probable explanation is that we’re made for another world”.

We are actually built for lives of trust and interdependence, where love and kindness can work their magic and each one has our own offerings to the community around us. “Two are better than one… If either falls, the other can help them up…” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Financially, there have been times when I have had more, when my pay cheques have come with that sense of freedom and satisfaction that I was “making a living”, with plenty spare. I always enjoyed being able to share this around, whether that meant opening my home and feeding big groups and gatherings, choosing surprise gifts for friends or supporting charities. More recently, I have been in the opposite situation: working very little and on the receiving end of some beautiful generosity from a huge number of people. It can feel hard and humble – even humiliating – to be in the position where these gifts have literally helped me feed my kids and pay my bills. And yet, I’m learning that both giving and receiving (whether in money, time, kindness or creativity) have their beauty. Giving and receiving, the lending of strength, the sharing of wisdom, the offering and acceptance of help… All these are what make a healthy, loving community.

So – we all have limitations. Times or areas in which we need to acknowledge our need, accept help, facilitate self care. Knowing these limits is a strength, not a weakness, an opportunity to “make space” in our lives. Space to be, not achieve. Space to receive, not earn. Space to say, out loud or even just to ourselves “I am finding this hard.” Space to say “no” or “not right now”. Space to care for ourselves, or to fill the cups we would like to pour out for others.

What are the limitations you find yourself under at the moment? How can you give, receive or make space this week?

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