September 12, 2011

Limits

Lately, I have experienced the results of exceeding my limits, both physical and emotional. With all the plates spinning, I have thought myself superwoman, ignoring the Spirit say, "Rest." Even when I have tried to physically rest, my mind has spun wheels of worry, concern, and obligation.

I am learning again what I have learned before: I am a limited, finite person. If I try to take on burdens and responsibilities that are beyond my control or ability, I will become frightfully overloaded. However, God is unlimited and infinite; I can trust Him to carry and handle the heavy emotional loads.

I show that trust by resting as He asks me to regularly rest, both physically and emotionally.

A book that has been helpful to me as I pursue that balance between rest and effort is Margin by Richard Swenson.

He says:
Emotional limits are...vague. How much straining can the pscyhe withstand before being overloaded? Physically, most of us could carry a one-hundred-pound person on our back. But we could not carry ten. We would not even try. What is clear to us in the context of physical limits is less clear regarding emotional limits. To extend the analogy of carrying people into the emotional context, you might be able to emotionally "carry" one person. But what about five? Ten? One hundred? Where should we draw the line.
The limits of emotional overloading are hard to define, and helping people is one of the easiest places where emotional overload is manifested. 
We are not infinite. The day does not have more than twenty-four hours. We do not have an inexhaustible source of human energy. We cannot keep running on empty. Limits are real, and despite what some stoics might think, limits are not even the enemy. Overload is the enemy.
Some will respond, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Does this mean you can fly? Can you go six months without eating? Neither can you live a healthy life chronically overloaded. God did not intend this verse to represent a negation of life-balance. Even Jesus Himself did not heal every case of leprosy in Israel.
It is God the Creator who made limits and it is the same God who placed them within us for our protection. We exceed them at our peril.
I'm sure you also have many plates spinning or your mind is concerned today with people you care about who are struggling. I hope you will join me in taking your finite, weak self to the capable hands of our God and find rest today.