Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gift of Limits

I have for a long time preached the intellectual sermon about "limitless living" and "transforming your obstacles". In that rah-rah hype and momentum I have also promoted the belief that we only limit ourselves, by our beliefs, our pasts, our expectations and our fears. In a way, waging a battle against perceived limitations as if they were the enemy of success to be beaten down and conquered.

This morning while reading the book "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality", the author Peter Scazzero explains that limits are to be grieved, then embraced. While our limits frustrate us, they also train us in humility. Humility then, as a character asset, is the very thing that keeps us in touch with reality - the very word "humility" in Latin meaning grounded.

"Is it true God that You place certain limits in my life to help me stay grounded?", my mind pleaded as I closed the pages of the book in desperation. "God, do you limit me on purpose to train my soul? These things that I am fighting against, have you put them there on purpose?" Before I could finish my pleadings I could almost hear a strong but gentle voice saying, "Yes child. Your limits keep you REAL."

Oh my gosh. It hit me. Like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit with its eyes loved off, my limits are THE gift that God gives me - not to be a failure, not to be broken, not to be forever grieving, not to be frustrated, but to be REAL.

In a world of plastic commercials, disposible people and supersales, that up-sell sex, up-sell Hollywood, up-sell money and fame, that up-sells gotta-have-it-right-this-second . . . God wants me to BE real and STAY real. My God-given limitations are as valueable in the process as are my God-given gifts.

God opens up the visual of swimming. "Child, water is a constant. It has qualities that are consistant every time you get in it. Understanding its qualities and constants allows you to learn and employ the principles of swimming. There is frustration sometimes in learning to swim, but enjoyment once the principles of that constant are understood. Your limitations with water combined with its constants allows you the experience of success within limits."

My mind reeled in that clarity. My limitations and struggles with my children? Same. My limitations and struggles with health? Same. My limitations and struggles with money? Same. My limitations from family patterns and ineffective thinking? Same.

God wants me to embrace my limitations - and grow with them in the constants that they teach me - while not being defined by them.

"Thank you God for giving me limitations. I will not be angry for them anymore. I will not see them as my enemy. Thank you for the constants that they each create - and the character training that they require of me." I whisper as I prepare for my day, seeing my tasks so differently than before.

And as the water runs over me, I am right like rain.