We all face limitations in our lives. Perhaps we’re coping with a broken relationship, experiencing financial struggles, dealing with an illness, or feel stuck in a dead-end job. Perhaps we’re facing several challenges. The truth is, we are creatures of limitations — confined within time in frail bodies, with exhaustible resources. No matter how hard we seek to avoid them, these obstacles are a part of life and we’ll experience them at some point or other.
Yet, while we tend to think of such limitations in negative terms — as the things holding us back from our desires — they can actually be something worth being grateful for. You see, if we let them, our limitations can act as the very framework for our goals, directing our aspirations and actions toward the course we need to take in order to achieve them. After all, in reminding us of what is not possible, limits also serve to show us what is possible. And once we understand what’s in our control, we can focus on that and seek to make the most of it.
… in reminding us of what is not possible, limits also serve to show us what is possible.
A friend of mine is a perfect example of this. She has been battling an undiagnosed illness that led her to quit a job she loved in order to rest more. She could have felt like her life was on hold until she could receive a diagnosis and healing in order to move forward, but she didn’t. Though her sickness has held her back from doing something she loved, this woman has chosen to use her pain to create a new dream for herself in helping others in similar situations — and is even pursuing an education in healthcare in order to do so professionally.
Her life is testament to the fact that greater dreams and goals can be created from unfortunate circumstances. There are truly opportunities present in every moment, regardless of what we’re dealing with, and it’s important to recognize them in order to then take advantage of them.
You see, focusing on the opportunities within our limits, rather than the limits themselves, removes the infinite theoretical choices and paths before us and helps us actually take action where it counts. It is only when we set aside our notions of what we think our lives should look like that we can begin to accept our circumstances as they are and achieve the dreams possible within them.
In this light, our limitations are not confinements at all, but opportunities given to us for growth. So let us embrace them, keeping in mind these wise words from Thomas Merton: “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”