I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how life has limits: We can only do so much. There is only so much time in every day, week, work shift, life. We only have so much money, energy, space in our closets. There’s only so much food our body can take in well, only so much information we can digest at once, so much attention we have to give, so many relationships we can have before they all don’t run as deeply…
Limits are all over the place.
It may have taken me until almost 30, but thankfully I’m starting to learn and embrace this truth.
I’m realizing that every time we hit our personal limits it’s not as enjoyable as we thought a bigger life would be.
Taking on one more work project when you’re already at your max feels like burn out, over-exhaustion and crazy stress levels. One extra social engagement may mean emotional fatigue or even resentment for being there. One more outfit bought may mean less money for something you needed and/or more time and effort trying to pick out outfits, wash, mend and upkeep your clothes. One more bite of food may mean weight your body doesn’t feel as well holding. One more purchase or meal out may feel stressful financially…. our limits are everywhere. And as I realize with every decision, bypassing them, will never actually lead to what we long for.
Living bigger than you’re designed to doesn’t lead to more success, love, acceptance, safety or whatever your brain hopes doing or having more will get you.
This truth of adulthood, learning and respecting your unique limits, boundaries, capacities and weaknesses is more life-giving than we’ve been accustomed to think.
Personal limits and weakness can be a gift…a grace. Loving and living within them may even feel like freedom.
At first (and for a long while), admitting your limits and respecting them will probably be a great challenge.
That first “no” to an event you really want to be at but know you only have so much time and energy left is really hard. So is the second “no” and the third and…
That first trip or two to donate clothes or consign takes a lot of effort to beat the “oh but it still fits” or the “I might need this someday or want to use this” mental-tapes is hard.
Our beautiful brains are wired to fear scarcity, to fear “not being enough” or having enough in the future. They aren’t against your feeling free, it’s just that they are trying to keep us safe and secure based on scarcity instead of faith. But those thoughts, they don’t lead to more security, more peace, more faith, life, or freedom… they all tend to lead to more attempts on our part at controlling and oversizing our lives.
I will not pretend that it’s easy to live within our God given limits, but I will say I’m learning it’s worth it. Here’s what else I’m learning – the people who love you the most, will keep loving you for it. You will have enough. You will always be enough for your right-sized life.
You do not have to live exhausted. You do not have to live over your budget. You do not have to do it all. You do not have to have the latest trend on or take on every job and social engagement that comes your way.
So stop. Practice trusting you will still be loved. Love will still be there surrounding you and no amount of money spent, time worked, clothes bought, exercise or lack there of will earn it for you. You are human. You have limits. They are unique to every one of us, and that’s ok. In fact, I may even go as far to say your weakest, most limited parts are the most endearing.
As crazy as it sounds every single time I read it, Christ actually said “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.“ It’s incredibly shocking to also read Christ say to his friends not to take ANYTHING with them when they travel. Basically I think it’s like him saying “trust me on this. You’ll be cared for. I’ve got this. There will be provision when you need something.”
I still don’t fully understand this. And yet, the more I practice embracing my limits, my weaknesses, the right size of my life, the better I feel.
Life feels comfier when I live within my limits. There’s time to love the people I pass by or I work alongside. There’s time to help someone I notice. There’s space to think about my day. There’s room to have my favorite kinds of random deep conversations that only happen while you’re resting around the house in your freed-up time. There’s room to play (which I am still learning is much harder than it sounds to a productive cultured adult).
We are all made to be fully alive – and what I am finding as I near 30 is that may mean we need to pull back. Pull back so we feel we have enough energy. Pull back so we feel we have enough time. Pull back so we feel we have enough money. Pull back so we feel you have enough attention for those we truly love. Pull back so we feel we have time to refresh, play and enjoy our lives.
This living with less, living under our limits – whether that’s doing less, hustling less, trying to be less, owning less, trying to achieve less – may mean living by what John of the Cross called Raw Faith – which is that scary dark space of trusting God when you know you’re not in control anymore. It’s challenging – but with time it truly can create a deeper, freer, more intimate faith within.
I don’t know what your thing is, what lie you’re listening as it whispers that you must keep running beyond your size. But today I want to encourage you to join me on this messy, trial and error, beautiful journey of resizing your life to find real freedom.
May the choices we begin making this day take us one step closer to a comfier, calmer, more love-felt life.
Grace & peace.
Extra Musings and Random Thoughts
This journey of right-sizing life would’ve have come about as easily without the help of friends who are great at “purging” possessions and living uncluttered, mentors who have great personal boundaries and know and love who they are, and many podcasts like The Minimalists, Happier and others especially authors like Brene Brown, Shawnna Niequist and Richard Rohr who guide us toward living with more heart, presence, and faith.
Cannot believe it’s already mid-February. Winters tend to be the hardest months with the most darkness… so I will not complain at it’s passing quickly! I truly hope all of you feel deeply, wholly and truly loved this mid-February. Because you are. No matter how you feel. The God of the Universe created you, loves you from the inside and is as close as your very breath. May you this Valentines Day lean into that crazy faith truth of Our Creator actually delighting in the very real, human, fully ourselves us.
I may not love Winter, but it does have a beautiful way of coating the earth with crisp, clean, white and allowing us to right-size life indoors for day. Thankful for the snow this week to make the bleak winter bright and cozy.