There are some life lessons I seem to need to learn over and over again, the hard way. This week I have learnt again that I need to respect the limits of my energy or there are consequences. When I get too busy and the margins are eaten up and the things that recharge are squeezed out, this is what happens:

Tears. Piles of dirty dishes and paperwork. Fights with Shawn about trivia or historical grievances (Me: ‘You didn’t let me use the car and I had to cycle to work in the snow.’ Shawn: ‘That was NINE YEARS AGO!’). Balls falling around my ears as I fail to respond to emails, keep commitments, remember my own name. Domestic disasters, such as having to send both girls to school in uniform from last year that doesn’t fit because laundry has not happened. Broken sleep, as my mind spins busily round and round unresolvable challenges – or rather, challenges that can’t be resolved at 3 am. Headaches. Weight gain.  Exhaustion. Total absence of creativity and humour.

Apparently the stock answer to the question, ‘How are you?’ is no longer ‘Fine,’ but ‘Busy.’ There is a fine line between the kind of busy that gives life a happy, purposeful momentum, and the kind that destroys your soul. Around last Christmas time, I set myself some limits and I’ve found that living within them made things sustainable. My limits are a maximum of three evening plans in a week, one commitment on a weekend, bed by eleven, two runs or bike rides a week, starting each day with my Bible, and very careful thought to what freelance work I take on. All those limits have gone out of the window for the last month or so, hence the mess.

So I’m relearning, pulling back, recovering, and remembering why I set those limits. I wish I could set them further back. I wish I had more capacity. I wish I had more energy to apportion to the things I want to do. But there’s not a lot of use in wishing. I am who I am. I am limited.

What are your limits? How do you stay sane and rested? What do you have in place to guard from burnout? I’d love to hear your stories.

3 thoughts on “Limited”

  1. Veronica Zundel says:

    Thank you for this. As I have just started a part time MA and am still giving a lot of time and energy to supporting my neighbour with PTSD, I need to remember my own limits. Extras are going to have to go out of the window for the next two years. And I may have to employ my cleaner for tasks like windows, bed changing, etc.

  2. Belinda Pollard says:

    Oh so true. We make a god of busyness and forget ours is a God of rest. I am chief among sinners on this issue!!! I heard a good message a few years ago, on the “good measure, flowing over” passage: God is a God of abundance, not paucity. He gives us abundant resources – including time – to do what he wants us to do. I can only assume I’m doing a lot of things that are not on his list! It’s a constant work, isn’t it? Forever trying to reel it back in…

  3. Elaine says:

    I’m just going through a very similar situation. I was feeling well and therefore started to push my own limitations, telling myself ‘but I feel good at the moment I can commit to these things.’ Turns out these commitments just added more stress and anxiety and made me want to retreat back into my cave where I was safe and happy. So I sadly had to drop out a college course which I’d been waiting to do and pulled back from church commitments just until I can get the courage to poke my nose back out the cave again. It’s frustrating. There’s so much I want to do and get involved in but I know it will be too much for me. As you say, we just have to except we are limited.

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