We don’t like limits. In fact, most of us either push the limits or pretend they don’t exist. And if we are honest, we are made to feel ashamed if we actually accept them without a fight. So when someone makes a statement about children or family or homeschool or Christianity limiting us, there’s often a surge of emotion. It’s not even that the statement is false; it’s that we’ve conditioned ourselves to think that limitations are evil.
The fact that children change our lives is a pretty established and accepted fact. It is a fact that there are things I am no longer able to do while my kids are young. It is a fact that kids determine to a large extent when I sleep, when I get up, how much sleep I get, and when and what I eat. And for many of us, our kids determine how long we have in the bathroom and whether or not we get a shower.
But this principle also holds true in so many other areas of our lives. Marriage limits us and rearranges our lives. Career choices limit us and rearrange our lives. Money, or the lack of it, limits us and rearranges our lives. Homeschooling and sports and drama club limit us and rearrange our lives. Even God limits us and rearranges our lives. And that’s not a bad thing, is it?
You see, limitations are not the evil. But if I live in denial and try to arrange my life as though those boundaries aren’t there, I’m miserable. And if I stand with my nose pushed against the fence, wholly focused on it, then I miss the freedom within the space I’ve been given. Limits are not the evil; living beyond our limits is what brings dissatisfaction, exhaustion, and burn out.
Any commitment, any relationship brings with it certain boundaries and certain upheaval and change. Freedom is not trying to find a way out of this reality. Freedom is acknowledging and embracing that reality. Because a life without limits, a life where we are totally free to arrange our lives to meet our every whim, is truly an empty life. It’s a life of no investment, no sacrifice, no commitment, no relationship, no fulfillment, and no satisfaction.
Whatever the specific parameters of your life may be, understand that they are not bad. They simply give shape and structure and definition to your life. Your limits are not keeping you from doing something more important or robbing you of your identity or preventing you from being you. God sets our boundaries, and He has placed you exactly where He wanted you to be and given you exactly what He felt was most important for you to do.
Instead of denying that our limits exist or feeling shame every time we have to say “no” to something because of our limitations, let’s embrace them! Because pushing those limits distorts the mold and shape of the very things we love most.
Embracing my limits is also embracing the freedom to love and invest whole-heartedly in what God has given me.
Need more Monday morning encouragement? Read about embracing imperfections: we can’t do it all.