Ignoring the Limits God Created for Us

by | Apr 1, 2024 | Featured, Life Advice, Wisdom

Fourteen years ago, I suffered heat stroke in sight of the finish line of a community race I’d been training to win.

It was eighty degrees, with high humidity, and I’d trained for months on seventy-degree mornings – unusually cool for summer. I had written on my hand my time goals for each mile — my splits, as they’re called in the running world. My brain locked onto those times, and I achieved most of them until the last mile when I began losing my mind. I learned later that it’s common among those who suffer heat strokes: they ignore the signs their body is giving them to stop. When the stroke occurs, the body has already offered up many signals, many cries for help, to pause, to slow, to drink water. Finally, when provided no relief, the body shuts down.

There was no space for me to hear the warnings, to pay attention to what my body was telling me. My mind was fixed on those splits, on the attempt to win.

We are embodied. Limited. Full of dreams and passions for abundance, and yet requiring seven to eight hours of sleep and sixty-four ounces of water daily to function well.

We have eternity in our hearts, and yet we can fracture an ankle, suffer a headache for days, and scrape the skin right off a shin in one fall.

This story returned to me as I faced a year that held significant surprises and significant hurts. For a while, as I fielded those, I kept the pace. Daily dinner for nine, groceries delivered on time, texts replied to on the same day, others’ expectations met. I was fixed on my splits, though unknowingly.

And then my body said uncle.

Month after month I found myself sick, each time, with an explanation until there were no more. Friends just came through town a day after they cleared the stomach bug, so of course I got it next. I prepped our family of nine for a cross-country trip and then we drove it. Of course, with disrupted schedules and little girls waking in the night in unfamiliar homes, I was bound to get sick. But after several months of recurring sickness and waning explanations, I realized I had still been watching my splits. Still serving dinner around the table, still taking family trips, and still bringing meals to friends in need, ignoring my own needs. The temperature rose, life got heavier, and still I drove myself.

So, I stopped watching my splits and gave in to the tired. I paused the yeses to help friends and ordered takeout and went to bed early, even amid teenagers whose hearts open after 9:30pm. It was the best decision of my year.

Tired can be a gift, friends. But many of us are living like we’re still in our twenties and like I ran in that race: we press through tired. We ignore it. We charge through the limit it imposes on us.

God encased us in flesh. He gave us wrinkles and gray hair and the need for sleep and sunshine and water and bathrooms. Is it too much to consider that He uses our bodies to reach us, telling us when to pause, to slow, or to sleep?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” (1 Cor. 6:19) 

We all would agree He cares about this temple, this holding place for Him, but He also uses it to teach us, to reach us.

Is your steady mid-afternoon fatigue telling you a story? Could it be God is using it to reach you, to reveal to you’ve ignored your limits?

So many of us run our Christian race like I ran that women’s four-miler all those years ago: eyes on the splits, convinced that we know the goal, idealized against hearing and receiving God’s gentle, persistent warnings to realign us toward His way.

We press on, but not in the way Paul intended when he said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 3:14 ESV). We press through, ignoring the way God made us to achieve a prize that, though we use language as if it’s in the name of God, often just makes us feel better about ourselves.

Perhaps we’ve not seen or named this struggle with our limits. Maybe we’ve not noticed the way it drives us.

Taken from The Gift of Limitations: Finding Beauty in Your Boundaries by Sara Hagarty. Copyright © March 2024 by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan, www.zondervan.com.

Sara Hagerty is a bestselling author and Jesus follower. She has written four books, including her most recent release, The Gift of Limitations: Finding Beauty in Your Boundaries (March 2024). Despite laundry baskets overflowing and unending “to do” lists, Sara still squeezes in her early morning runs, walks through the woods next to her house with the children of hers still little enough to collect acorns, and reading pages and paragraphs of books in the middle minutes. She lives in Missouri with her husband Nate and seven children. www.SaraHagerty.net. 

Keep up with Sara on Instagram @SaraHagertyWrites!

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