Some people are naturally conservative about how they use their time, body, and heart. Others of us are known for carrying in too many groceries at once, volunteering to help with everything, and staying up late to get unnecessary, but awesome, things done.
By now you probably know I am the latter. But, the process of learning my limits is making me holy.
“How do you learn your limits?” you ask. Well let me tell you, it is not a fun process. It often means hitting walls over and over again until you’re willing to make some changes.
Great Power and Responsibility
In life, my tendency to step up and take on more projects has proved both a challenge and a gift. I recognize that this ability has been a platform for productivity and connectedness, and has helped me achieve, create, and stay involved in a variety of activities. But the responsibility and stewardship of this multitasking power is not something I have been very intentional about the last quarter of a century.
I have not acted too differently from a toddler who doesn’t know when it is time for bed, despite all the obvious signs. Pouting, pushing, and falling asleep mid activity. But lately I find myself pondering my limits quite often. I feel like Spider-man, chatting with Uncle Ben, realizing that “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Becoming a mother, wife, and employee has been a great opportunity to practice this responsibility. I am gifted with lots of opportunities to do more, but an equal number of avenues to see how doing too much affects those closest to me.
This pregnancy, specifically, has been a prime opportunity to accept some of my limits. In general, I am one of those people who does pregnancy with my wheels a little off. I don’t feel the need to be overly cautious and I think its most important to follow well researched advice, trust your mama gut, and most of all, don’t stress yourself or the baby out.
But throughout this pregnancy, I have learned that this growing human does indeed change my limits, see the above statement about hitting walls. It is okay to say I need a nap, an extra hand on a particularly nauseous day, or meter the expectations I have for myself.
What does all of this have to do with being holy?
Limits are a gift from God
Sacrifices are an opportunity to grow in holiness, they set us apart from our human urges and comforts and make us more like Christ. In a life filled with modern comforts, often the sacrifice of time, self, and wants is our path to holiness.
The truth is that God gave me my limits as a gift, to focus and discern his will. So the question is, “am I neglecting my current callings in order to follow my every whim?”
Despite my grumbling, a 24 hour day, a body that needs rest, and a limited human capacity are gifts from God. When seen with grace, these limits force me to discern how to use my limited resources.
How often do we say, “if only there we’re more hours in the day”? But what peace we receive when we realize our restrictions do not have to hamper our livelihood, but instead are an opportunity for just the opposite.
Recognizing my limits and saying no to options, ideas, and possibilities is truly a sacrifice of will for the good of myself, others, and the things I am called to be faithful to in this season.
“We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. I will be a saint means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment; I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God.”–St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
There are many times, when “yes” is the holiest response, but whether you realize it or not, every yes, carries with it the opportunity costs of a “no” to several other things. My “yes” is only full and complete when I recognize and accept the contingent “no’s” attached.
So I will say it again, learning my limits is making my holy. I have a long way to go, and I know the road will include both honest discernment and small, daily, Holy Spirit led choices. But an attempt toward holiness is always a path fortified with God’s grace. St Augustine said it best, “Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace.”
After writing this post, I realized that this subject has become a reoccurring subject on the blog in the last 6 months. Maybe that means God is trying to teach me something more or this is a true theme in life at the moment. See: How she does NOT do it all and I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.
“God’s invitation to become saints is for all, not just a few. Sanctity therefore must be accessible to all. In what does it consist? In a lot of activity? No. In doing extraordinary things? No, this could not be for everybody and at all times. Therefore, sanctity consists in doing good, and in doing this good in whatever condition and place God has placed us. Nothing more, nothing outside of this.” –Blessed Louis Tezza