Thursday, January 9, 2014

Finding Myself: Knowing My Limitations

I think the definition of wisdom, in decision making, but also in life, is knowing your limitations. It's knowing your own personal boundaries. It's knowing your strengths and weaknesses, too.

To focus on your strengths, you have to know what they are. Just as importantly, what they aren't. Be honest with yourself. Be self-aware. Listen to your body. Listen to your heart.

When faced with a decision, you weigh your options. Sometimes you have time to ask others for advice. Sometimes you have to choose something immediately. You make the best choice, given what you know.

Perhaps you overestimate yourself. What's the worst that could happen? You lose, you get hurt, you fail. 

In the past, this would have emotionally torn me to pieces. It would take days and weeks to recover a broken heart. I never tried and failed at physical tasks, so I'm not sure how long it would take to heal a broken bone. In this economy, it may take months to find a new job if that was the risk.

Perhaps, instead, you underestimated yourself. What if you succeeded, with such flying colors, that you received special accolades. You'd feel proud of myself, elated, and worth something. 
Knowing your limitations comes from trying things and either falling, or succeeding. I am not at the place where I have tried everything and can judge whether it will fail or succeed.

So I guess I keep trying. 

I will either fall on my butt, keep banging my head against the wall, find an alternate route, or succeed surprised and happy. I mean, that’s life, right? You can't just sit back and wait to see if it works for someone else first every time. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.

I also have personal boundaries, where the answer is always "no". I don't smoke, for one. I don't cheat on my husband. I don't steal. But these kinds of boundaries often are not the ones you are asked to cross. You may have vowed to never eat fast food, have sex before your married, never give away your grandmother's antique sewing machine, or that you will never get naked in public. All of these are healthy, logical boundaries.

What if you are asked to cross them?

There might be an opportunity for you to experience another culture, to travel, or to fulfill a lifelong dream. But you realize that in order to achieve it, you have to cross one of your boundaries. Do you go, or stay home?

Home is our comfort zone. Home has boundaries, walls that may be flimsy, but they are safe. 

Opportunities are risks.

Sometimes we are buried under the stuff we pack around us. That stuff can be boundaries, memories, regret, promises, a career choice we feel obligated to have, a house full of life that feels stuffy instead of comfortable. We invest ourselves and root ourselves so deeply into a life of obligations, that we forget to, well, Live.

There is a limit to how much we can do in one life without getting burnt out, too.


To be happy, you need to find a balance between living and existing to get by. Some days you have to simply exist and let the current of life carry you. Other days, you have to make a choice to do something to break free of the mundane. You have to list your priorities, your boundaries, your dreams, your goals, and what it takes to reach them. You have to decide what has to go and what can stay.

Do you go or do you stay?

Is this opportunity worth crossing the boundary you set? 

Who Am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? 

I am a writer, a teacher, an optimist, a mother. I am a wife. 
I love nature, quiet moments, observing, but I also sometimes don't know when to stop talking. 
I am Christian. I love people. All people. I work with the disabled. 
I am good at figuring out what people are trying to communicate and empathizing in such a way as to get into their world for a bit and help them join in with others. I am a decent mediator. 
I am creative. 
I love fall. 
I am a terrible hostess. I am not that great at cooking. 
I am healthy. I am not a runner. 
I get really red in the face when I am stressed, good or bad. Not having the answers, the back up plans, stresses me out. 
I like to chat with people. 
I like to read. I do not like to write research papers or read long articles. I prefer creative writing to academic. I like dystopian novels. I like movies that make me feel good. 
I do not fit in with people who have fancy lives. I do not wear makeup; I don't know how. 
I love the woods. I love trees.

Find your Wisdom, Find Yourself.

My Friend posted on facebook a long comment that fits perfectly with this post and says better than I have what exactly I mean:
If I can do a five mile run thorough Christ who strengthens me then in Him, in His power I can do other things as well. Other things that make me uncomfortable . Other things that seem impossible for me. That ARE impossible for me. But not for Him. I am guilty of spending way too much time in my comfort zone in life. Relying on my own strength and shying away from things I feel called to do because it's beyond me. But not this year.           -Renee
 She felt her limitations were at 2 miles. But she found the strength to keep going. She ended up with that 'That wasn't so bad. I am proud of myself" feeling. And she found time and space to see herself in the grand scheme of God's plan once again.

That's what I took away from Packing Light. That's the lesson I keep finding and hearing and listening to over and over again this week.

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