How do you get along with limits? Your answers might vary for any number of reasons but if we are candid with one another, most of us are not a fan of limits in some or even many areas of our lives. If you disagree on that thought, perhaps you haven’t had one imposed on you for some time. It’s one thing for us to choose a limit for ourselves and then discipline ourselves to keep it. It’s different when that limit is imposed by someone or something else.
Since my recent accident that I shared about in a recent post (Who Were They?), I have been reminded about how often I wrestle with limits. The current new limit has been about what I can eat and how to eat it because of the oral surgery I had two days after the accident. I am a fan of crunchy, crispy things like nuts, popcorn, and the like. Never do I want to soak my cereal and let it lay in the bowl until it is soggy. But that has been my lot since the surgery and will be for some weeks yet.
Initially I was limited to clear broths and soups since I cannot bite down with my upper front teeth due to what happened to them in the accident and the subsequent surgery. Add a splint to them after the operation to hold them in place and it means anything that might be small enough for me to manage with my back teeth becomes a problem since it gets caught in my splint. And then there is trying to enjoy my morning coffee that is not cold but not hot and you start to glimpse a new area of limitations I am wrestling with. (A side benefit has been the loss of about 7 pounds, but my diet and eating are definitely not a pleasure and a meal of whatever soft food I can manage is more work than pleasure.)
But limits began for us from the time we arrived on earth and soon discovered how often we were put into a small bed surrounded by bars called a crib. It was one thing if we were sleepy or already asleep, but it was a different story if we were not and wanted to keep playing or simply not be alone and away from our moms or others in the house. So as soon as we could sort through the problem, we began to try to figure out ways to get out. The bars didn’t usually let us slip through unless we were very small, so our next effort usually meant trying to find a way to climb over the top. If we were lucky and had extra furniture near the crib, that would often help even though it meant a hazard to negotiate that could be tricky and made falling a bit more dangerous. And this wasn’t the only limit we faced. Someone else determined what we could put in our mouths and what we could eat and when. Our responses to limits were usually not ones anyone liked very much.
But it was only the beginning for us. Limits would be a part of our lives from then on and the list of them would increase as we went along. We would be taught they were for our safety and benefit or that we needed them to learn. So, we could not ride a bike wherever we wanted or whenever we wanted. We had to sit in a schoolroom for hours a day and then spend more hours studying afterward. And the list kept growing.
The adults in our lives seemed to have so much more freedom and we were eager to grow up. Little did we realize limits would be a part of each day then too. We couldn’t drive a car any way we wished or at whatever speed we chose. We needed to get jobs we didn’t always like to be able to have a place to live and things to eat. We also discovered that violating limits could have serious results. We could get hurt, fail in our school or job, or land in jail. We might even cause our own death without planning to do so.
When we got farther along in adulthood, our bodies began to limit us in ways we didn’t like either. We couldn’t just dash up the stairs (certainly without thinking about it), bend over to search for something that rolled under the couch, and we couldn’t keep eating what we wanted because our bodies disagreed, or we had indulged for so long that our weight was a major issue or had caused us medical problems we thought would never happen to us.
Limits started long before any one of us were here. They started when there was just one before us. We were able to enjoy the beauty and lush provision of the Garden of Eden with anything we wanted except for the fruit of just one tree but a serpent who was lovely and cunning versus ugly and easy to avoid persuaded us to try the fruit of that one tree we couldn’t have. That set in motion a thirst for an unlimited life which is what the serpent intended and brought with it limits we could not have imagined. It began what turned out to be an insatiable desire for freedom and power without limits that we have been dealing with ever since.
We push ourselves beyond what our Creator designed in these efforts. We ignore that from the outset He modeled a rhythm for our lives of work and rest, organized around night and day, seasons of different kinds and depending on the culture we were a part of, we valued these things accordingly. It seemed that in time we began to devalue that rhythm and valued what we considered success more and more and that has been creating more trouble for us ever since then.
“Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we are not content to be like God, we want to be God. The weekly habit of sabbath is to remind us that God is God and we are not.”Justin Whitmel Earley
And whatever our faith base may be, that first misstep in the Garden of Eden by a lovely cunning serpent has been whispering to us and nudging us to develop habits to our detriment ever since then. Some of us are sold out to the belief below:
“Anything worth doing requires bending your whole life toward it. On the other hand, nothing is worth bending your life until it breaks.”Justin Whitmel Earley
My current new limits have caused me to take a deeper look at what limits mean beyond ones accidentally and hopefully, temporarily needed. What is the rhythm of my life to be if I want to be more like the God I believe in?
Next time we meet, let’s look more at this area as I continue my recovery and discover insights I may have missed when I wasn’t forced to accept new limits.