When I was growing up, I distinctly remember my mom telling me, “Tommy, you can do anything you set your mind to.” The affirmation was tremendous! I felt capable of conquering the world. Now, many decades later, I realize that the truth is a bit more nuanced. On one side of the coin, we are capable of much more than we imagine. We limit ourselves too quickly. On the other hand, we harm ourselves by not recognizing the true limitations that are part of being human. We live in a culture that says, “you can have it all.” “You can do anything you want to do.” Not only is this untrue, but it also hurts us by steering us in the wrong direction.

Limitations and possibilities are two sides of the same coin. Living constrained by “I can’t” misses out on the incredible possibility that exists in each one of us if we would tap into our true potential. We miss life when we live by “I can’t.” But living as if there are no limits to what we can do will lead us down a path of diluted impact and frustration as we take on more than is humanly possible. At one point in my 30’s I was running several businesses which required me to travel four days a week; I was an elder in my church; I taught an adult Sunday School class, and was married with two small children. I was completely frustrated and stressed out because I bought into the lie that I did not have limits. On the outside everything seemed as if it was going great as I tried to please everyone; on the inside I was falling apart. I thought I could manage the load, keep everyone happy and all would be fine. I came to realize that too much of a good thing is still too much. My ego (thinking I did not have limits) outsized my capacity. When I came to admit my limits, I began a slow road back toward health.

Right-sizing possibility recognizes:

  • Because I can doesn’t mean I should.
  • Priority trumps quantity.
  • The need does not dictate the call.
  • The urgent leads us to many things; the important leads us to the vital few.
  • Relationships suffer when we act as if we do not have limits.

Where are you operating as if you do not have limits? Are you leading those around you as if they do not have limits? How might life be enriched if you paid closer attention to the necessary balance between limitation and possibility?

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Mom xo says:

    Good message. A big difference between could and should. There lies the difference!!

    Xoxo mom

  • Mom says:

    Thought. Are your “coulds” yours or somebody else’s? Pleasing someone else can be very hard. Pleasing God works. Xoxo!!

    Where is the line in encouragement? Especially in raising a child. Never thought I had that in my youth so I might have overdone it. But I still believe en is better than dis. Xoxo a ton,mom