The Courage to be Limited
I just finished reading the MOPS book from last year, Be You Bravely. It had great insights about surprising ways we can be courageous, which got me thinking about what courage might look like for me in this season. The first thing that came to mind was courage to be limited.
As I’ve been relearning to eat, I’ve had to let go of the idea that it will look the same for me as it does for others. In fact, things look dramatically different now. I don’t just choose something off a menu when I go out to eat anymore; I have to pour through nutrition information online in advance and uncover the one or two best options so that I’m ready to order when I sit down [or choose a different restaurant]. I get to pass on the goodies everyone else is eating at the shower/party/wedding/church most of the time. I have to record each of my 6 small meals every day, so don’t be surprised if you see me whip out my phone at the table [I’m not being antisocial, I just don’t want to forget, I promise.] When it comes to food, I feel like I’m crawling when everyone around me is running freely.
In a word, I’m limited.
Thankfully, most of the time it doesn’t matter. Most people don’t know the work that goes into a meal out or notice that I’m not getting dessert or what I’m eating and when. It’s not something I draw attention to. It’s only those awkward times when someone says, “Oh, you’re not getting a cupcake?” or asks about my favorite dessert that I have to speak up. But it’s in those moments that I have to learn to be courageous and tell the truth: I have limits. I’ve tried to do what everyone else does, but it doesn’t work for me. I just can’t live like everyone else does.
There are all kinds of limits you might have noticed in your own life. Maybe you don’t have the same boundless energy of someone else. Maybe you have health problems that are limits. You might not be as talented or smart or countless other things that it seems like everyone else is or has. You know what? It’s okay.
We’re not the only ones with limits:
So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-10
As I read Paul’s words, I’m convinced that not only is it critical to tell the truth about our limits, but to recognize the value in them. It’s more than okay to be limited; our limits reveal God. When we have the courage to embrace our limits, we also have the courage to depend on God’s strength. My limits fetter me to Jesus in a way I didn’t know was possible, since every meal is another moment to pray and ask for strength to live within my limits.
Paul is right, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Paradoxically, when I have courage to be limited, I have strength and freedom that I’ve pursued in other ways.
May each of us have the courage to be limited, so that the power of Christ can work through us for his glory.