I haven’t posted on the blog here as much as I would like to. I find posts are harder and harder to write. There was once a time, in 2013, when you couldn’t stop the ideas and the writing. They just kept coming. I could hardly write fast enough. I couldn’t take a shower without an idea or nine floating through my head (sorry about the shower reference. It’s where my best thinking is done. There’s actually theories about this).
Lately, the ideas have slowed. Getting up the energy to put down my thoughts in this space has been harder. Part of that, I believe, is because the initial excitement of blogging has worn off. There was a time when putting ideas out there and having people read them was thrilling. That people cared about what I wrote and thought baffled me. And, honestly, stroked my ego. After a while, and after some criticism, having an opinion became exhausting and I didn’t feel like sharing something so personal as my thoughts. And so I think all of that is the in the space of why my posting schedule has slowed.
But I think there’s another reason as well.
I’ve hit my creative limitations.
I’m a pastor. One of my favorite parts of my job is when, week in and week out, I sit down to write a sermon. I love this. I take a lot of pride in writing my sermons and work hard so they are crafted well. It is one of the best ways I can serve my congregation. And that takes a lot of creative energy.
I’m also writing a book (shameless pre-order plug). I gave myself a lot of grace as I wrote the book over the spring, summer and fall of 2014. I even allowed myself to take a little break from blogging after I turned in my manuscript in October. What I didn’t expect was how that little break would slowly grow and get bigger. It’s like going to the gym on a regular basis. It’s easy to do once you are in the routine, but stop the routine and suddenly you’re all like, “I never cared about fitness to begin with,” and you never go back. It was kind of like that for me and blogging.
Then, and this is what nobody told me about writing a book (okay, they did. I just thought they were over exaggerating), the edits came back. After I got out of the corner I was crying in, and after I managed to put my shattered confidence as a writer back together, I sat down to tackle the 703 edits. That number is not made up. The book and my humility is better for the number 703, and so I am thankful. Now. But it was painful.
All this led me to see my limitations. For me, I could not craft sermons and write the book and keep up with the blog. I wanted to. I watched others around me do it and played the comparison game. “If my friend Benjamin Corey can write his book, his blog and get a doctorate and do a podcast, then I should be able to write an 800 word post every week,” I told myself. That is a game I will lose every time. I will always be able to find someone who can do what I can’t. So rather than playing the game I need to learn my limitations.
I want to be the person who has it all together and who can do more than the person next me. Call it a hyperactive competitive spirit. Call it a need to prove my worth. Call it whatever you want, but something in me feels that I need to be Superman, and anything less than Superman is a failure.
Lately, I have been wondering if discovering our limitations isn’t just as important as discovering our gifts. We place all the emphasis on discovering our gifts because we live in a culture that values success, achievement, and upward mobility. If you just discover your gifts then the sky’s the limits. There are limitless possibilities. We focus on our gifts so that we can do bigger and better things. I’ve done so many gifts tests that I cannot even count them.
But I’ve never done a limitations test.
How freeing would that be?
Would you be relieved to find out what your limitations are, and then, because you know them, feel free to actually live within their confines? You would know exactly what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. You would know exactly what to expect of yourself. You wouldn’t push yourself too much in an effort to be something other than you.
Truth is, you probably don’t need a test to reveal your limitations to you. You probably already know. What you don’t have is permission to accept them. Permission to live within them.
If that’s what you need, then here you go.
“You are an amazing person but, no, you can’t do everything. You have limitations. Those do not make you less of a person. They simply define what you should be focused on. Accepting your limitations doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you well defined. Focus on what you can do, and do it well.”
photo credit: Lefteris Heretakis