Acknowledging Our Limits

Filtered colors.

I’ve been thinking a lot about limits lately — specifically, the kind of limits that keep us from accomplishing everything we set out to do. 

For instance, in late May, I made a commitment to God and myself that I would post a contemplative reflection for you in this space every weekday (save holidays), and last Friday was the first weekday I didn’t uphold that commitment. I was on an all-day film shoot that began at 8 a.m., and the previous two days had been filled with similar day-long commitments, and I just couldn’t get it done before leaving for the film shoot that morning. 

As I drove around that day, the post left unwritten all day, I struggled to accept that I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to get it done.

Here’s a second example. My husband, Kirk, and I have recently begun guarding our Sundays for rest. We both work hard in our respective jobs, and our work lives and commitments often bleed into the evenings and weekends.

Recently, we realized the need to make a change.

Now, Sundays are for Sabbath rest for us. We take the day slow. We take a drive, go for a walk, read, or work on creative projects that bring us life. We attend a contemplative eucharist service in the evenings, and usually I’ll play with my iPhone camera and take photographs of things that inspire me. 

But this past weekend, I woke at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday with my to-do list running through my mind. I got out of bed and worked in the quiet of our house for three solid hours, and that evening, I worked another several hours getting some other items checked off my to-do list. 

I’m still learning how to rest on Sundays. 

And here’s a third example. About two weeks ago, I agreed to copyedit a book manuscript for an author whose book I looked forward to reading. I dove into the project and made great headway right from the start. But over the last week, other important commitments have cropped up requiring my immediate attention. That copyedit project languished on the side, and the day I’d hoped to have it finished came and went. 

This morning, I e-mailed the client and apologized. “I’m so sorry for getting behind on this,” I said. Life happened, and I couldn’t do it all. 

I’m still fresh inside this learning curve. I’m learning how to rest and say, “I’ve reached the end of what I can do today, and that has to be okay.” I’m also learning how to say, “I’m sorry. I overcommitted myself. I need to change the plan.”

Can you relate to bumping up against your human limits? How do you normally respond to your limits when faced with them?