Limitations – friend or foe?
Recently, I was challenged on my perspective on limitations (defined as something that limits; that is, something that creates boundaries – source). I think that, in the past, I have always seen limitations, for the large part, as negative. After all, our culture teaches us that we need to work to “overcome” our limitations and that ‘we can do anything we want to do – nothing should get in our way.’
I’ll be honest – in many ways, I believe this kind of thinking can cause discontentment as well as a lot of unneeded pressure in our lives. I should be able to do more. I need to push past those things that hold me back. I can’t take a nap – that would be lazy of me (even if I’m so exhausted that I’m about to fall over …)
Do any of those thoughts/statements sound familiar?
This topic applies to so many different areas of our lives, but I was challenged about limitations specifically related to being a mother. I was at a women’s conference and the topic that was being spoken on was “It’s never too late to think about the rest of your life.” The speaker, Jean Fleming, spoke on various aspects of this topic, challenging us to think about the brevity of life (and how that should not bring depression, but rather focus to what is really important; the things we should truly be investing in during this life), about the type of women that we wanted to become, and about how God viewed our lives and the direction in which they were headed. It was great stuff and fit right in with what I have been thinking and sharing about the different values I feel I am to be fostering in our family and home. However, Jean made one particular statement that was more profound to me than any other thing she spoke the entire weekend …
In essence, she shared that every season in life has different limitations … and that those limitations are God-ordained.
Whoa. That brought a ton of clarity to many of the struggles I have had lately; the struggle of feeling that I was floundering as a mother, the struggle of feeling there was never enough time in the day for everything I wanted to do, and the struggle of sometimes resenting my kids for how they were ‘holding me back’ from different things I wanted to take part in and/or different people whose lives I wanted to be able to invest in, to specify a few.
I realized then that I was treating the limitations that come with being a mother of small children as something that were negative. And the truth is – I am ‘held back’ from doing some specific things right now – the one I feel most deeply is my much more limited relational capacity. I love people. I love encouraging others. Being trained as a counselor, I love being part of God bringing freedom and healing into the lives of those around me. However, I just can’t be that in the lives of many people right now.
And do you know what I finally realized? That’s ok.
Gasp! Seriously? It is? You mean I don’t have to act like the Dawn who had a much different relational capacity (and overall capacity) pre-kids (or even pre-marriage)?
Honestly, knowing that I can’t do certain things or be involved in certain peoples’ lives in the ways I’d want to right now does bring some sadness. But you know what? It also bring a ton of relief – the pressure is off. As I think about what I was trying to do (way too much), I laugh at myself – how absurd to think that I could add a marriage and 2 small children into the mix and still continue in the way of life I had lived before (and expect that of myself)! I can’t do all of those things … nor does God expect me to. The limitations that come with small children are from Him, and should bring clarity to what truly needs to be focused on at this time in my life. My relationship with God is to be my first priority. My relationship with my husband is to be 2nd. My kids are to be my 3rd priority. And after that, I need to decide who and what my energy goes toward.
And that’s where I’m at right now – praying about what I’m to be doing with the additional capacity I have beyond those 3 sets of relationships. It’s kind of a mind-blowing realization in my life right now! It makes me excited as it’s just another step in the journey God had already set me on to figure out those things and people that/who are the right ones to give my time to right now.
Will I have to say ‘no’ to spending time with great people and to doing things I’d really like to do? Yep. However, as I am learning, a good thing at the wrong time is not a good thing. I truly want to be choosing the right things and the right people for right now.
How about you? Are you truly giving your time and energy to the right things and people for the current season in your life? If not, you might want to take stock of what you’re doing and cut out the things and people that/who are not for right now. Dare I encourage you (and me) to embrace some of your limitations?