Limitations.

Two blog posts, well, really a post and a series, have inspired me to think about limitations.

I heard those groans.

We don’t like limitations.

Physical, financial, time-related or whatever, we chafe at limitations.  We chafe at the clock at work.  Chafe at lack of resources to to what we want, or perhaps what we want as fast as we want.  Chafe at the line at the bank.  Chafe at the laundry.  Chafe at the housecleaning, the meal planning, the meal prep. Chafe at cleaning up the kitchen only to use it all over again in a few hours and clean it up all over again.  Chafe at the dog who wants in only to be let out… and in… all over again (okay, so that one’s all me maybe 😉 ).

Chafe chafe chafe.

One could get rubbed raw with all that chafing going one, couldn’t one?

And so we come to Lent, where we gave something up or took something on, or both.  And it sounds all cool and exciting at first, and then we get a week or so in and it starts to chafe.  We crave the food thing we gave up as though we’re starving and it’s the only true food in existence.  We rebel against the extra limitations we set on ourselves.  We trip and fail and wonder what was the point in the first place of these limitations, even for forty days.  Do we really need them?

Sarah’s post about the Freedom of Limitations got me thinking about a metaphor I like.  See, we don’t like to associate freedom and limitations. It seems oxymoronic at the very least.

And yet, limitations give us freedom the way the banks of a river give the river its power.

See, it’s the banks–the boundaries, the limitations–that keep the river focused, that allow it to leap madly over rocks, gurgle around branches and rush headlong down stream, bringing life to the land around it.

Two years ago in May, we in Nashville and the surrounding area got a front row seat to what a river without those limitations looks like.  The Cumberland River and surrounding streams spilled over their banks and caused massive devastation around the city and even up here where we weren’t so close to the river, water was suddenly everywhere carrying dirt, and trash and disease with it.

And I think that might be exactly how our lives are without limitations.  We just end up as muddy messes all over the place. No direction, no power, no real life, and certainly no life-giving ability.

So it seems to me that limitations are in fact, freeing, life-giving, and powerful.

And remind me I said that next week, when I’m having trouble remember that my Lenten discipline this year is to learn to view work as worship and I suddenly feel as though the world is asking too much of me when it’s time to unload the dishwasher or something.

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