Today I spent time straightening up a room in our house. I cleaned the windows, got rid of clutter, and packed up some things for giving away that clearly we’re not going to use.
And it felt good. But I didn’t know I was going to do this when I got up. In fact, I felt a little frozen by indecision at first. There’s plenty of chores inside and outside the house to do. Which to pick?
Most of the time my family and I tend to the immediately necessary chores, the ones that need doing each day. Other tasks get demoted and ignored. After all, my wife and I both work full time. We have 3 teenagers. Life is busy. Not everything gets done as I’d like it to.
And this daily reality makes me think of what it means to live with limitations.
We all have limits. To be a finite creature means having limits. We only have so much time and energy. Doing this with my time means not doing that. C’est la vie.
Often I find this frustrating. Only because I get annoyed or bothered by the unfinished tasks all around me.
This mundane experience of our human limitations is indicative of more profound limitations.
I can’t do everything. Or please everyone.
Neither can you.
Exhaustion is a sign we’ve transgressed our limits. Burnout certainly is. Even depression, anxiety, and other strong negative emotions might point to ways we’ve pushed ourselves beyond where we should.
Our limits remind us that we’re not God.
In his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero writes this about accepting our limits: “Jesus modeled this for us as a human being—fully God yet fully human. He did not heal every sick person in the places he visited. He did not raise every dead person. He did not feed all the hungry beggars or set up job development centres for the poor of Jerusalem. He didn’t do it, and we shouldn’t feel we have to.”
If Jesus didn’t do everything for everyone, what makes us think we can or should?
Maybe you need to give yourself some grace. Admit and live within your limitations. Yes, we can all do some things. But none of us can do all things. And that’s ok. That’s how God made us. Living according to his design is how we discover rest within our limitations.
So if you find yourself frustrated or disappointed by what you’ve not gotten done, take a moment and be grateful for what you can do and remember that God loves you even if you don’t do anything.