Thursday, October 22, 2015

When You Feel Smothered by Your Limits

When I started my art project back in January I planned to dedicate twenty minutes once a week to art. Previously I have said that I didn't have time for art because twenty minutes wasn't time for anything. Instead I did nothing with that twenty minutes (or least not art). Time that's not allocated to something is typically wasted. 

That art project has grown. I'm doing a ten minute sketch most days of the week. And I'm still doing the "big" piece once a week that takes at least an hour and not that twenty minutes I decided I could scrounge up back in January. 

So what changed? 

I learned to embrace limits. Before I fought against them, believing that they were keeping me from doing the work that I wanted to. Now I realize that they enable me to do my best work. 

Limits do the same for you. 

-Limits remind you of what's important. This is all based off your beliefs. What's important to me is that I'm doing life with my family and still pursuing a vibrant version of me. I don't want to neglect what God's given me to do with either my family or other work. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., used to say that "duties never conflict." God's not going to call me to stay home with my kids and homeschool the one in school and work three part-time jobs and volunteer twenty hours a week. We need to let go of our expectations for ourselves and find God's design for our lives. 

-Limits make you choose. Once you know that's important to you it becomes a lot easier to choose what you are going to do. What you do will change based on seasons of life. Sometimes you have to choose things that aren't your heart's desire. That's ok. There may be an opportunity you want to take but you can't because of the season of life you are in. That's ok too. Seasons of life change; what you can do with your time will change with them. Saying no now doesn't mean saying no forever. Opportunities that God wants you to take will come around again. 

You also have to choose based on what you are gifted in or called to. I didn't spend that twenty minutes a week learning to rewire electrical outlets. That would be a valuable skill but I only understand how electricity works on a surface level. I could tell you but it doesn't really make sense to me. Not everything that's available is for you. 

-Limits enhance your focus. Once you know what you are doing, you can focus on those things. I don't spend my art time wondering if I should be cleaning my house. I don't spend my writing or blogging time wondering if I should be doing kindergarten with my oldest. I don't spend the time that I have with my family wondering if I should be blogging. Find what God wants you to do and then do that. (Of course we question those things in an effort to stay where God wants us but it doesn't have to linger in the back of our minds every minutes of every day.) 

-Limits give you a time to work. I know the time I have to write and draw and work on this blog. If I don't do it then, it doesn't happen. That's powerful motivation to do the work when I'd rather not; often the couch seems more appealing. Find small pockets of time every single day and work on the passions God has given you. Work furiously within those bounds and see what happens. It's easier to not try than face the fear of failure but then you'll never accomplish anything. 

-Limits prevent comparison. When you know your limits you only have to focus on your work. There's no need to look at your friend, your co-worker, or your sister and wish you were doing her work. Or worse think you should be doing your work and her work too. Pull yourself back into your own lane and live there.

I've reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (mixed reviews: definitely a worthwhile read for me, not a complete recommendation). She tells a story about Herman Melville writing a friend (Nathaniel Hawthorne!) about desiring large amounts of time to write his book: time freed from responsibilities and stresses where he could focus completely on his creative process. He never got that time but he still wrote Moby Dick

Because I can't not say it, let's quit with the "motherhood martyrdom." That's the "everything I want to do would be easier if I did something besides mother." That's not true. I know it would not be easier for me to blog if I had a full-time job instead of or in addition to my three children. You find the time for the things you want to do. It takes some discipline. Excuses are a way to rationalize our lack of self-discipline. 

You can't do it all, but you can do something. Your limits will help you decide what your "something" is. 

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