Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Know Thy Limits

Yesterday I shared a bit about the tapped-out, zapped-out, worn-out state I was in last Friday.  But I also shared about how God took advantage of my 40 minutes of monotonous desert driving to speak to my soul, wash me clean and prepare my heart to learn a little something.

One thing I learned was about the dangers of my freakishly high standards that I set for myself.  And how they aren't helping me at all.  Quite clearly God addressed this issue with a mere three words pressed into my heart:  "Know thy limits."  I don't know that He actually used the Old King's English term, "thy", but the truth was so profound, it seemed to me that it needed such honor and respect!

As I laid in bed on Sunday morning, trying to sleep in because I could and finding that I couldn't, my thoughts wandered to the list of to-do's for the upcoming week.  Being genetically hard-wired to plan, I sometimes can't help it, but on this particular morning, I didn't want to think about the tasks ahead.  Deep in my heart, I wanted to marinate in the stillness of not having to do anything ... but it's hard to fight those genes!

As I began to mull over the school activities for the week, the extracurricular events in the evenings, the beginning of watching Baby S full-time,  and the party preparations for Norah's eighth birthday, I felt my shoulders tightening.  Knowing that all those extra parts of life would be sprinkled throughout the usual demands of the day made my heart-rate speed up a bit and I felt myself headed back to that slippery slope of stress.

"Know thy limits."

I reached for my journal and turned to the back page.  Being a genetically inclined list-maker, I made five columns:  God, Brett, Kids, House, Me.  I figured if I could get on paper all the needs and responsibilities, maybe I could order them in a way that would fit into my life.  Into the hours I have in a day.  Into the amount of strength my mortal body contains.

Strangely enough, when I finished my lists, there really wasn't that much there.
  • Times of study and prayer fell under God's column.  Simple enough.
  • Carving out down-time and just-us-time was in Brett's column.  With a few baked treats thrown in for fun.
  • The kids had more, of course, but it appeared manageable.  A few extra needs each day, perhaps, but they seemed to be scattered throughout the week.
  • The weekly chores around the house threatened to take on a life of it's own.  But again I had to remind myself that I'm not cleaning the house from top to bottom on a daily basis.  I can deliberately delegate chores to able-bodied little people who live here and the rest will get done eventually.
  • And then there was me.  I don't really need much either.  Some free-time and some scheduled time to take care of church and MOPS responsibilities.  Time to write and read.  And maybe a home spa treat from time to time.
"Great.  You know what is on the table.  Now ... know thy limits."

The reality is that I can't do all of it and I can't be everything everyone needs, but I can do a good job of a few things.  The challenge is remembering that there will always be needs, there will always be things to get done, there will always be lists ... but I can't burn myself out trying to tackle them all.  And especially not all at the same time!

Here's a snapshot of me not knowing my limits:

Over the past several weeks, I have been feeling so stressed in the mornings.  We hustle and bustle and sometimes tussle right up until it iss time to blaze out the door for school.  We have a routine to keep:  getting dressed, eating breakfast, family Bible time, brushing teeth, brushing hair, washing faces, packing backpacks, finding shoes, grabbing sweatshirts ... and hopefully doing it all with smiles on our faces.  Then Mommy looks around the house and decides to squeeeeze in just one (or two ... or three) more things:  sort laundry, quick phone calls, tidying up bedrooms, dinner prep, wash dishes ... and suddenly the smiles are gone and there is more tussling than bustling!

Unfortunately, those feelings of being frazzled and frustrated at a too full morning would follow me through my morning and sometimes into my afternoon.  Yuck.  And my kids could feel it, too.  Double-yuck.  And Brett had to hear about it.  Triple-yuck.

As I laid there on Sunday morning, I experienced a mini-epiphany:  I am limited.  And it's okay.

The fact is that I am merely a person ... unlike God.

Here is a mind-blowing verse about God's boundless energy, unlimited resources and fathomless ability to keep all the planets spinning, stars shining, sun blazing.  And keep humanity's needs met, fears quieted, hope alive.  And keep my family's pantry filled, hearts learning, days joyful.  And keep my soul filled, tears dried, wisdom growing.  While I can barely get my housecleaning done!

17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, limitless, boundless, infinite, endless, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17, expounding mine)

This week I am trying hard, in the midst of the busy-ness of flu shots, football games, birthday parties, school music programs and inevitable laundry, to "know mine limits" while still tapping into God's inexhaustible strength and immeasurable grace.  What a better place that is to be ... within my own human boundaries ... and with a smile on my face.

What about you?
Do you "know thy limits"?
Are you living within them?


  1. You write such a wonderful blog. I just wanted to share the encouragement with you. Have a great day!

  2. Thanks for your post reminding me that it's okay to say "no", let things go, and enjoy the simple things of life. I'd hate to have the beautiful outdoors of fall come and go and look back and say, "I missed it."


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