It’s been over 3 months since my last blog post.
I can’t believe that much time has passed. The longest I’ve gone without blogging for years. But time is like that, impossible to hold, restrain. It keeps going even when you wish life would allow you to take a moment to breathe.
That’s how these past months have been. For 12 months, our family has been strapped on a rollercoaster ride of experiences–some peaking at the highest of highs, others plummeting us to deep lows. I love rollercoasters, love the feel of the wind on my face and the smell of adventure. But just as I’m spent after a day at Six Flags, our family experienced exhaustion from the thrills and spills of this past year. That’s the beauty of real life. And the reason I decided to take time to breathe.
When I realized that my responsibilities were more than I could effectively tackle, I eliminated a few non-essentials, including this blog. But don’t take it personal — I also stopped cooking and cleaning my house as often. We had to pull back and focus on our family, resting, and simply enjoying each other. Non-essentials faded, and essentials came into central focus. And as much as I love a full and eventful life, I’ve learned more this year than ever before one truth:
I have limits.
So do you.
The problem is I’m terrible at setting limits. I want to do it all, and sometimes fool myself into thinking I can. Until real life happens and I’m reminded that limits are not my enemy, but my friend. Recently I received an advertisement in the mail claiming, “You can do it all in your lifetime.”
No. No, I can’t.
And neither can you.
You can do a lot. You can accomplish great things in your career, become a one-of-a-kind spouse, write books and articles, raise dynamic children, influence people and communities and neighborhoods. But you can’t do it ALL. You can do as much as your innate limits will allow. And each of us have different limits. Learning what those are, and living within them, is key to a thriving life. And thriving relationships.
I have different limits than my husband. Different limits than my coworkers. Different limits than my parents, children, friends, and you. I have my own unique thresholds for activity, emotion, relationship, stress, responsibility, physical expenditure. As I’m discovering what those are and live within them, I’m falling in love with the limited life.
What are your thresholds? Are you living a limit-loving life? Do you respect those limits and make choices (in responsibilities, relationships and activities) that coincide with your limits?
If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you sleeping well most nights?
- Do you have white space (margin) built into most days?
- Do you know how to say “no” and DO you?
- Is spirituality an important part of each day?
- Are you physically healthy?
- Do you make eating well and exercise a priority? (If you think you don’t have time, then that’s a “no”)
- Do you spend regular, quality time with your chief relationships?
If you answered “no” to more than one of those questions, then your life my need a little reevaluation. You might even need to stop reading this non-essential blog and do something essential, something that shows respect and love for a limited life.
How do you know you’re living outside of your limits? And what do you do about it?
Thanks for the reminder and challenge. I came across an obscure word that I use in my keynote: “bricolage”. Basically it means doing the most of whatever resources you have on hand. We often hear the adage “think outside the box”. Well, I’m learning to “think inside the box” and make the most of what I have right now and enjoy everything that is nearby.
I love that, Jeff. Learning to “think inside the box” and then live within it, satisfied and content. A whole new way to look at life.
Hi Michele, thank you for a great reminder of the joy of living a limit-filled life. That really does take the stress off things while letting us savor what we CAN do instead of hurling insults for what we CAN’T.
Thanks, Stacy. We love to insult ourselves for our supposed “failures,” don’t we? 😉
Great blog, Michele. A little painful but very necessary. Have you been listening in on God’s conversations with me??? lol
Hahaha! Sorry for the pain — it wasn’t intentional. 🙂 I need to learn this more than anyone!
Thanks for your thought-provoking post. What is that helps me know when to slow it down? My husband! (Just kidding – but only partially!) A friend put it to me perfectly the other day: “I just sometimes think I can do way more than I really can.” I need to remember that resting in God is not His suggestion, it’s His command to me. And then I need to accept His wonderful, life-giving offer!
Again, appreciate this post!
My husband helps me with my limits, too! In all seriousness, he often keeps me from being completely overwhelmed, because I think I can do way more than I really can also. Thanks for your insight, Ann!
“Limits are not the enemy, but my friend.” So true. Glad to read this post as I’m praying over the upcoming year.
Thanks for reading, Jeanette. This is one of those subjects that I need to revisit again and again and again and … Happy New Year!
Just heard a great sermon this last weekend about waiting. Talked about waiting for a baby to get here and how that is a good thing and sometimes waiting can be good to teach us things. When you mentioned that you can’t do everything it brought that sermon to mind again. Enjoying your posts.
Thanks for the insight, Vicki. You’re absolutely right! Waiting — and being fully present in the waiting — can be a huge teacher. I’m much better at “doing” than “waiting.”