The Gifts of Limits ...

In my sermon yesterday I suggested that living within our limits is not simply a 'boundary' issue but a 'spiritual' issue ... a tangible expression of our trust and dependence on God. And counter to our instincts living graciously within the limitations of our life as it’s been given to us not only enhances our capacity for joy and peace, it brings added substance and richness to our lives. 

Are there signs that expose when we're not living wisely within our limits? In her excellent book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership Ruth Haley Barton describes some of the things we're wise to pay attention to.

  • Irritability or hyper-sensitivity – things that wouldn’t normally bother us throw us over the edge
  • Restlessness – a sense that something’s not right, a desire to escape our life, so overstimulated we're unable to relax or sleep
  • Compulsive overworking – more often than not self-imposed demands, inability to regulate our work habits, checking email at all hours of the day, unable to unplug
  • Emotional numbness – we can’t feel anything – good or bad. Experiencing life with a full range of emotions simply takes too much energy. Or we're afraid that if we stopped long enough to experience our emotions we'd be overwhelmed and who has the time for that?
  • Escapist behaviors – eating, tv, drinking or other substance abuse, spending, surfing the internet, pornography… when we don’t have the energy to engage life-giving activities we escape to things that don’t ask anything of us
  • Disconnected from our identity and our calling – we find ourselves at the mercy of our inner compulsion or other peoples expectations because we lack a clear sense of who we are and what we’re called to do in life
  • Not able to attend to basic human needs – eating right, exercise, sleeping enough, staying organized, spending time with our family, enjoying good friends
  • Slippage (or neglect) in our spiritual practices - spiritually life-giving habits (prayer, Scripture reading, solitude, journaling, etc.) become burdensome 

Our limitations are gifts from a trusted friend - reminding us that we’re finite and human and inviting us to do life with an infinite God. 

Fighting for your heart,

Gary