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Limits

by Jenn Hale

July 22, 2020

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In my early twenties, the world was my oyster, the sky was the limit and I had what seemed like endless amounts of energy. I didn’t think twice about pulling an all-nighter before finals. Fast forward to my late twenties, and I was still pulling all-nighters . . . only this time, with a newborn.

In my thirties, reality began to hit. My body didn’t bounce back the same way after the second newborn. And what were these unfamiliar lines appearing near the corners of my eyes? I was also quickly realizing that I actually didn’t know it all and was learning to cling to the wisdom of those who had already been where I was headed.

Now, in my early(ish) forties, I have begun to make peace with those lines near the corners of my eyes and I’ve watched a few more join their ranks. And as I discovered this past New Year’s Eve, I’m no longer capable of all-nighters. Looking back, I see that the seasons I’ve been through have given me the gifts of joy, pain and perspective.

In this particular season, among other interesting lessons, I’m becoming increasingly aware of my limits:

  • I think I am capable of doing multiple things at once and have convinced myself that I multitask well … but this is just not true. Inevitably, I am not as present as I should be, and at least one of the tasks always suffers. I have a limited capacity for output.
  • I have a voracious appetite for information and go after the temporary high of taking in more, rather than listening to the need my body and spirit have to catch up to my mind. I am limited by the amount of information I can process and apply.
  • I choose to push through my exhaustion, relying on caffeine and willpower to achieve more, instead of attending to my body and its need for sleep and relaxation. I am limited by my need for rest.
  • My son wants to get out of the house for a while and has asked me to take him for some behind-the-wheel practice, my daughter wants me to do an online baking tutorial with her, and my small group is meeting via Zoom—all at the same time. Yet I am not omnipresent and I must let someone down. I am limited by the fact that I can only be in one place at a time.
  • I want to help those around me that are hurting, lonely or depressed. But I often try to fix, cure and play savior when what is needed is for me to pray, show up and listen. I am limited in my ability to change the situations and circumstances of others.

It’s tough being finite! And this list just scratches the surface. But the crazy thing is, the more I embrace the fact that I am a finite being, the more it points me to the beautiful truth that I was created to rely on and worship an infinite God.

My limited capacity for output points me to His ability to do all things well and still be fully present. My limited ability to process and apply information points me to His omniscience and ultimate wisdom. My need for rest points me to the fact that He pulls all-nighters every night and still never drops the ball. The fact that I can’t be in more than one place at a time points me to His omnipresence and the truth that He will never let me down. And my inability to change the situations of others points me to the power He has to redeem every situation.

My limits remind me every day that He is limitless, and that’s a lesson worth learning.

Jenn is a fan of quiet reading nooks and loud dance music, but not at the same time. She is still working on limiting her coffee intake.