Grace of Limits or the Gift of Being Limited

1 Day, 24 Hours, 1440 Minutes, 86400 Seconds.

Have you ever stared at your planner or schedule and didn’t know how it was all going to get done? I can’t be the only one. You get to the end of a day, and you fall into bed, exhausted but berating yourself for not finishing your impossible list. Today would’ve been perfect if you could have checked everything off your list.

But you didn’t, so it wasn’t.

Our to-do lists can sometimes bury us. But this isn’t even counting the friends we feel guilty for not making time for because “it’s the holidays” or “I’m swamped.” Meanwhile, you’re dying for some good old fashion down time.

I mean, I am. There have been times in my life where I’ve spent most hours feeling bad because I had failed my to-do list and hadn’t been able to be emotionally present for friends. Whole days, weeks, months seemed like a failure because I couldn’t manage to be superwoman.

The Gift of Being Limited

It’s a funny thing to realize that not being superwoman or any other superhero for that matter is a grace. I can heave a deep sigh of relief because no one (except myself) expects me to get all of it done. Least of all, God.

God is intimately acquainted with humanness. After all, He not only created us, but He also experienced being fully man as well as being fully God. Can you even imagine what it must have been like to be both 100% God (limitless and super-everything) as well as 100% Man (limited and muggle-mundane)?

I love how The Message words it: “Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death.” and “That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life.” (Hebrews 2:14-18, The Message)

We humans are limited. (And so is everything else) 

Sometimes I chafe against that idea. I’d rather be a bird with wings so I could fly, or a mermaid so I could swim. Or I just wish to be able to do everything on my to-do list. (Even now, I’m failing my list. It’s almost my bed time, and I didn’t get to that last item yet–and I won’t)

But, I find so much grace in knowing that I’m limited. I can’t do it all. I can’t be everything to every task or every person. The freedom in this knowledge is relaxes me.

1. I don’t have to do it all.

With the limit of time and the limit of my energy, I don’t have to do it all. I can’t do it all. And that’s okay.

2. It’s okay to ask for help.

In my limitedness, sometimes I need to ask for help. Maybe I don’t have to do it all alone.

3. Bravery tank.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that we only have so much bravery for each day. It’s limited. When I’ve used up all my bravery (either climbing high on an aerial silk or being in a socially trying situation), it’s okay to be done.

4. It’s okay to cancel and come back later.

I HATE cancelling. My momma grew me up with the idea that if you said yes…then you’d better be there. But sometimes, to cancel means showing up better than ever for the rescheduled meeting. (No, don’t go being flaky because I said it’s okay. I still hate it)

5. Human means limited.

Sometimes, I’d really rather not be human. It’s simple as that. But, honestly, once I accepted that I was limited, I loosened up.

When it comes to my inner world, I’ll always have super high expectations (for myself and, sorry to all my friends, for you too), but in pondering the gift of being limited, I’ve discovered a breath of fresh air. I am limited and that’s okay. And sometimes, doing my best (even when I fall short because I’m limited) is good enough.

Okay, okaaay. Are you comforted at the thought of being limited? Or does it bother you?


  1. Kate   •  

    Love this. Yes, being limited can be super freeing. But it takes a certain mindset. One that’s essential anyway, if we’re to be as humble as we’re called to be. But ultimately, being limited is what offers the ability to relax. In an earthly example, my husband knows my limitations better than anyone in the world — and I’m most free and easy around him. There’s a comfort with him that isn’t there with anyone else. It is God’s grace to me.

    There’s just something about being who you are (and nothing more) that brings purer joy.

    • Barbara   •     Author

      Kate, I love that example, and I think it’s interesting how accepting your limits seems to also slide into the idea of self-acceptance and self-love. I hadn’t considered that at all until reading your comment. But, I guess these two things really go hand in hand!

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