Our limitations can bring healing
Just when you thought I couldn’t squeeze one more post out of my stress fracture, I’m giving you a bonus one—on what we can learn from our limitations. You’re welcome!
In late 2016, I was in medical boot for about 10 weeks, recovering from a stress fracture. If you’ve ever had to wear a splint or a cast, or use some other medical device while healing from injury, you understand: physical healing is an emotional process. Whether we wait patiently or not, our bodies will mend themselves, but it won’t happen overnight. Waiting for everything to work properly again can be a very discouraging experience.
Wouldn’t it help to notice all the good that is going on, while we are in a season of limitation?
In Ecclesiastes 3, we read that “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT). A season is “a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature” (merriam-webster.com). Every season has signs or distinguishing characteristics that accompany it. Flowers bloom and the days grow longer in springtime and leaves fall and the nights grow longer in autumn.
In physical healing, change is often occurring inside of us. Good stuff is happening, but we can’t always see it. Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening at all! If we only notice the most obvious signs, all we see are the limitations. But if we look more closely, we can see much more.
God designed our bodies to regenerate cells and repair brokenness. It’s easy to forget the healing process is a gift God has given to us. Yet, because God is faithful, healing happens whether we appreciate it or not. Sometimes for proper healing to occur, we must endure limitations. In my case, I was limited from putting weight on my forefoot by my medical boot.
Depending on our need, God provides other types of limitations, for our good. The first six months of living here in our new city, I felt desperately alone. I knew the season would pass, but it was still excruciating. I was socially limited, having no circle of friends, no history with my sweet new acquaintances, and no besties to celebrate birthdays with (thinking just now of my Arizona peeps Melissa, Esther, Jodi, Cati, and Martha who went out of their ways to celebrate me…what a blessing it was to me, in that season).
Solitude was the limitation that I needed to regroup and sift through ALL the feelings that come with such big change. The Lord wanted to remind me that I have all I need, in Him. I’m beginning to emerge on the other side of my solitude. Recently, God brought some wonderful new friends into my life and my appreciation for them is deeper than they know.
For me, motherhood has also been a huge limitation. I have been tremendously blessed AND significantly hemmed in, by staying home with my little sweeties. My arms still long to hold those soft, sweet-smelling babies, but now they are big, independent kids. But those same cuddly babies nearly drove me over the edge because staying home with toddlers and babies was totally out of my comfort zone in so many ways. Later, homeschooling really did a number on my ideas on “schedules” and “plans.”
I guess it’s safe to say that—because of the limitations and demands of motherhood— I am a totally different person than the expectant mom who was wheeled into the delivery room over 14 years ago. The Potter used the limitations of motherhood to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze me into a new shape, a vessel more useful and beautiful than the previous one.
Take heart, dear ones!
When I had to wear the boot, everyone I met exclaimed about what a terrible time I must be having. Strangers commiserated with me in the produce aisle, in elevators, and in waiting rooms. This universal expression of sympathy was amazing, but unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, I am a champ at complaining! But I had been in so much pain before, with such little hope of things getting better. Relief came from my new limitation, the boot. I loved my boot for that!
Feeling gratitude for my limitation gave me eyes to see the blessings during this healing season.
What if you could feel blessings in a time of strict budgeting to pay off debt? Maybe you can see the miracle in that job that you hate and the boss that seems to be holding you back? Can you see God drawing you to Himself, through the suffocation of grief?
While we endure our limitations, the challenge for us is to find purpose and meaning in our experiences. Here are some observations from my recent brush with limitations—some blessings are obvious and some took a little more effort to see:
During a season of limitation:
Limitations allow stressed places (or people) to rest. Though we might feel confined by them, they are for our good.
- Limitations allow brokenness to heal.
- Limitations feel unnatural (we have to learn to adjust our expectations)
- “Healing is a process, not an event.” I saw this quote at my doctor’s office.
- Careful: our limitations can throw us off balance. There was a learning curve for walking with the boot. We shouldn’t begin to think of our limitations as our forever, or even our new normal—they are just here for a season.
- Careful: our limitations can make us weak and inflexible. My boot made my ankle weak and decreased the flexibility in my (already) stiff big toe.
As you emerge from your season of limitation:
Finally, as we transition back to “normal,” we must shed the practices or devices that have protected us, during the healing season. Otherwise, the limitation that helped to mend us, can begin to hurt us.
- Flexibility prevents re-injury. We must be able to bend without breaking—after the boot, I needed physical therapy to learn to walk normally again.
- Expect some pain with change. Physical therapy hurts!
- Slow change is healthy. This is always hard for me. I prefer instant improvements.
- If the old shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it Old shoes, old habits can be harmful. Clean out your closet, find healthier shoes.
- If you go back to the old ways of doing things, you’ll end up right back in the same place.
The Lord uses what we see as limitations for our healing and growth. Are you in a season of healing, physically or emotionally? Or are you feeling limited by your season, but can’t see the end to your brokenness? Maybe your circumstances leave you feeling trapped and you have no idea what God is doing with you? Today, look for the goodness in your limitations. If you can’t see it, pray for the Lord to open your eyes!
Copyright: johnny2303 / 123RF Stock Photo