February 18, 2016

The Gift of Being Limited

On Monday I stayed in my pajamas until 4 pm. Although I woke up early and drank two back-to-back heaping cups of coffee, the fuzz of sleep didn't burn away until late morning. By that point, showering and changing into clothes felt a bit too strenuous, so I didn't force the issue with myself. Instead of choosing hygiene, I chose to do a lot of staring off into space, giving my brain a chance to think again after a whirlwind of activity the previous week.

Why is it that when my body is exhausted, my mind goes into overdrive? As I lay in bed, staring into space, taking a moment in my room to get my act together, my thoughts began berating me. For being tired. For feeling the need to rest. For not having the mental capacity to immediately move on to the "next thing" on my agenda.
I immediately did what I always attempt to do: force myself through the tiredness. This never works, although I still try it every time. Instead of helping, trying to force myself only makes me more tired and more grumpy.

So I decided to try something else. Laying on my bed in my pajamas, I just asked for the Lord to remind me of what's true.

The first thing He brought to my mind was His faithfulness. I was tired precisely because of His faithfulness, which sounds funny to say, but it's true. He asked me to tick back through the days and think about what each had entailed: a meal with friends that God has used us to pursue for years, our church's women's retreat where dear women shared stories that I've seen with my own two eyes of how God has redeemed and healed them, our Sunday church gathering with so many beloved people built into a healthy community by God, and a wedding of someone I love who has faithfully endured tremendous pain.

And that was only the weekend.

As I ticked back before that in my mind, I found instance upon instance of how I'd encountered and experienced God's faithfulness. I was tired because I had been thrown around in a pinball machine of God's goodness.

The second truth He brought to mind is that I was tired because I am tire-able. I am able to tire. I am limited by design. I don't like being limited, which I am well aware is super prideful. I get mad at myself when I hit up against the borders of my humanity, and, no surprise here, I try to force myself through those limits and valiantly push on toward the "next thing".

I was starting to see what God was trying to say to me:

God = limitless goodness and faithfulness
Me = limited in every way
God-designed limits for me = God's goodness and faithfulness to me

How was this can't-get-out-of-my-pjs weariness God's goodness to me? He was offering me time and space not only to rest but to remember. Of course limits help us in a myriad of ways, but the main one is that if we don't have limits, we would never stop. If we don't stop, we don't take time to recall what God has done or to reflect on His goodness. Limits are gifts that help us remember that our greatest gift is a God who is limitless.

My mind cleared in those truths, and my heart settled back in peace. I don't have to force myself through limits, nor do I have to listen to the self-condmenation I'm so prone to berate myself with. I can, in fact, let my limits direct me toward dependence. And I can, in fact, receive a pajama day as a gracious gift from God.