More on Limits

Morning reading.

I’ve set aside today as a day of rest. It’s the first day I’ve allowed myself a full day of rest in eleven straight days — and let me tell you, it’s been a difficult morning so far, keeping this commitment. I keep wanting to write e-mails or make plans to schedule my upcoming week. I keep thinking about deadlines and how much I want to keep working in order to meet them or get ahead of the game. 

But so far this morning, even though there have been great surges of struggle to let go of work and sink into rest, I’ve been able to remain committed to what this day is about for me. I haven’t written the e-mails. I haven’t opened my notebook and planner. I’ve rested — literally gave myself permission to sleep a little bit longer — and I’ve continued to let myself actively embrace the plans I’ve made to spend quality time with a very dear friend today. 

But the struggle has gotten me thinking this morning more about the limits of our humanity.

What is at the root of that drive in us that wants to burst through our limits and not be stopped short by anything? What is it that keeps hounding at me to do more and more and more, not welcoming that still small voice in me that pipes up to say, “What is done is good and will have to be enough for now, and now I need to rest”?

I don’t know about you, but for me, the root of that striving drive and that hounding voice has a lot to do with fear. 

I fear falling short. Failure. Not being enough. I fear letting people down or creating some inadvertent catastrophe by a moment’s lack of vigilance. Plainly put, I fear whatever might happen — via circumstance or relationship — from my not being perfect or all things for all people or situations.

Can you relate to this?

I remember another season in my life when I began to recognize this tendency in me as something possibly unhealthy or other than God intends for it to be. I started seeing this drive in me as a tendency toward what I called the superhuman. It was so helpful to even call it that because then I could step back and say, “What does it mean, then, to be merely human?” 

Being human means not being God. It means having a body that can only be in one finite place at a time. It means having a brain that can only hold so much. It means having systems inside me that need nourishment and rest in order to thrive and get rejuvenated.

Being human is an invitation to grace. 

Perhaps it will help you to hear, as it helps me, that when we try to be superhuman, we’re trying to be other than what we actually are and what God made us to be. When we’re aiming for the superhuman, we’re actually trying to be what God alone can be, which is to say without flaw or failure or misstep.

When we’re trying to be superhuman, we’re more than likely trying to protect ourselves from pain or judgment or rejection or disappointment in some way. More often than not, we are acting out of a fear of what might happen if we don’t do it all, whatever “all” might be for us. 

Right now, in this moment, with what you’re facing, what do you fear will happen if you allow yourself to embrace the reality of your limits? If you played out your worst fears to their imagined conclusion, what might that look like? What is it like for you to hear that God made you human, not superhuman?