Week 3 Day 3: Embracing Limitations
Week 3: My Relationship with Self
Workbook Exercise: My Own Self
Watch: Week 3 Day 3: Embracing Limitations
What frailties or weaknesses in yourself might you befriend?
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Transcript of Video:
Jesus in one of his parables speaks of the farmer who plants the seed – and it grows, he knows not how. The hiddenness of growth I think is an aspect also of growing into and forming a Rule of Life. One of the aspects that I have learned of that hiddenness is embracing limitations. Embracing what might be seen as weaknesses and seeing them as perhaps the alternative side of one’s graces and gifts, with various limitations that come about through age or with health problems, with perhaps the fleeting of memory, or the vigor of being able to work at the pace that one might have in the past or even to take part in the life of the Christian community. I think there is a hiddenness of grace that reflects in all of our relationships – with one another, with ourselves, and with God. Embracing the frailty of our human nature is a way of giving thanks to God. Forming ourselves in a Rule that is full of gratitude, expresses and embraces all the aspects of the mystery that we are before God as a particular image and likeness of God, which no other is.
It is also a way of us preparing for the new life, the new life that we begin to experience even now this side of the grave. A life in which we have interdependence one with another, a dependence on God that is an intimate one, one that is able to relax into the fullness of each day and each experience, without making judgments about them, but rather seeing all as gift and treasure as we are remade in Christ’s image.
– Br. Jonathan Maury
This was a very different and thought provoking message for me today. It kind of hit me from left field. I think there are weaknesses in me that I have recognized and dealt with most of my life: being willing to break away from my introverted comfort zone, having the courage to engage others and trust others, to be comfortable in social situations (like the dreaded “fellowship hour” after Sunday morning church services), to get past my fear of being directive and/or taking an overt leadership role in situations. But on reflection throughout the day today, I recognize more recent weaknesses which have become present as the years have passed: physical limitations to the amount of physical labor I can do each day, care I must exercise to protect my lower back, intellectual limitations to the amount of thinking/reading/research I can do each day. These are signs of my mortality – easy to ignore and hard to accept. I believe accepting all of these weaknesses and allowing God to give me the grace to embrace these will be important steps for me. Thank you Brother Jonathan for this message.
I think I feel awkward at times, and an outsider. I also notice that I dont have as much energy now that I am 63, I need to pace myself.I can be impatient and judgemental. I can be jealous of others when I perceive they have happier circumstances than me. Sometimes I don’t recognise my strength – I think this can be a frailty – ‘ hiding my light under a bushel’- and I can be disorganised.
I like the idea of embracing or befriending my weakness, I can see that recognising it in myself can help me be understanding of it in other people , and also help me to grow .
I think that one of the attributes I have always considered a strength is very much a weakness: my tendency to say, “I’ve got this. I can handle it. I am strong enough to take of this on my own and not rely or depend on someone else.”
Strength and courage are certainly virtues, but at the same time I need to be open to receiving help and love from God and from God through others. So, I embrace this weakness, knowing that relationships based on God’s love should be the result. Surrendering to help and love.
Hi Stan, I relate to this one which you put so well- me too!
I have noticed that, there is a slight, not always there change, I am noticing about myself and just like to say that when I was younger it was not this way I used to feel. Sometimes I worry, at other times I wish them away and try to focus on depending on God to see me through. I can get irritated by things and grumble about people not being so conscious of things, as they should; I query in my mind.
What frailties or weaknesses in yourself might you befriend?
Acceptance of my frailties and weakness as been difficult for me. I also sometimes struggle and am angry about my diagnosis ADHD, anxiety, and depression especially the fact that I did not know what was at the heart of my poor choices, choosing of incompatible and sometimes abusive girlfriends and wives over many years. I know that I need to love myself even forgive myself it is difficult for me. I no longer commit the same mistakes but I still find myself being disconnected belligerent and suffer from depression and anxiety attacks. It has improved due to medication, good counseling, and healthy relationships.
I still find myself asking God why and at times comparing myself to other successful 50yr Olds. When I think about my body I feel sad because of my losses.
Thank you Brother Jonathan for your gracious and wise presentation. I will be 77 next month, and quite a few parts of me are ‘heading South for the winter’ as I like to put it. But your words touched a chord with me. Whatever – Saint Paul had lots to say in his letters about contentment, and you words point in that direction too.
I just need to slow down and not push through things. Like many others here I am aging. So right now my husband is pushing me to hurry to be at a festival. So I am being kind to my weaknesses by not being pushed around. I looked up the festival and nothing that interests us happens till 2pm. It will be hot all day, too. It is 830am. So instead of getting in a tither I explained we can take separate cars if you want to go at 9am or you can wait on me to get ready since nothing good is happening until 2pm. I have to be reasonable with going places as I age or I will not feel well. So sometimes befriending my frailties, I have to say no to someone else and it isn’t always fun to do that.
I like the piece of this message that talked about seeing frailties and weaknesses as opportunities as something that life and God has to teach us about ourselves about the world about our relationship with God or other people. I look at this exercise in two ways. First I look at it from the perspective of other people what they might see as weaknesses or frailties. I know that several times in my life I’ve had people say to me not to let people mistake my kindness for weakness. That is something I’ve had to look at really strongly in myself. that I examine whether I am letting myself be used or exploited but that’s not as. troubling to me because I think that we’re here to help others to be there for other people that it’s OK for us to extend ourselves. I don’t think being kind being forgiving being open to being vulnerable or hurt is is weakness. I think it’s actually really a strength. I think another place that other people might see as a frailty or weakness is something other people have suggested to me also which is that I have a expectation or a view of poverty. got concert Libby and I’m willing to look at that because I do think it can cause me stress that I am not as financially stable as I could be, however I do think that it can also be a grace because of my recognizing that what I have is still so much greater than what many have and that that I have enough. I think that something that many people in the world don’t understand is the concept of having enough.
The second way I would look at this question is what I see as weaknesses and frailties in myself. I am quick to anger. I think this is my biggest weakness is the place out of which I often hurt people I love. I think that that anger comes from a place of doubt of vulnerability of feeling unsure in myself and that it comes out as being angry if I don’t know what I should do or what I want to do or how to fix something. I let frustration manifest as anger. I often end up angry or resentful or in an argument. I think that’s a weakness that I really would like to find a way to work through. I think it’s very hard for me not to want to walk away from a confrontation with some one close to me. I think that’s a frailty or weakness that I could work on. I think there’s a value to knowing that it is OK to step away for a little time to gain some perspective so you don’t end up saying hurtful things or lashing out, but I also think there’s a value to being willing to remain engaged when things become overwhelming whether for yourself or for the other person. I think another weakness or frailty is my inability to set aside enough time to take care of myself physically and emotionally I think this is a big weakness and frailty because it keeps me from being able to do the things that I want to either for myself or for other people.
My physical weaknesses have much to do with how I’ve abused one of God’s gift to me: my body. It’s difficult to befriend such a long history of abuse; which is why, as I’ve alluded to in previous writings, it is essential that I try hard to address this now, so late in life. The weaknesses of mind unfortunately have contributed to the latter: complacency, lack of self control, confusion of which direction to turn. Many people have tried to help, but stubbornness, yet another weakness, often gets the better of me. Despite everything that I’ve done, and not done, and despite all that has affected how I live my life, I am finding that I have begun to embrace, or “befriend” the aging process. I have always been very shy, not very good in engaging in conversation, afraid to speak my opinions about much of anything: always quiet, and not necessarily for my own good. However, the shyness has turned into active listening, rendering an opinion, and listening again; my, this sounds a lot like conversation! In the past, I would just clam up, and allow others to give me my opinions for me, then just accept that I should think this way. Granted, I still tend to trip over my own words and thoughts, but I’m getting better…as I age. Hmmm, I think God may have plans for me, for all of us: something to look forward to.
some one said that humility precedes gratitude…then it is the Lord who is enlarging my heart to greater gratitude! I didn’t know I had all these, not good enough, self measurings that were shown me in how I responded to discovering cobwebs in the corners, and tub grundge that had accumulated over who knew how long, and that I had no interest in washing down cabinets one more time or reline the drawers and the back of the refrig, well it was ok if a new life form as evolving back there on what was once a zucchini.
It was after cataract surgery that I discovered all this… neglect? indifference? the recognitions that lead to humility. When what was once a strength becomes a weakness! humility is leading you by that belt Paul spoke about…
I’ve long thought of Paul’s thorn in his side, that crushed him to the ground as “the memory of who he was” before the Lord knocked him off his horse. Everything he thought of as a strength became a weakness…
I don’t know when gratitude slowly moment by moment becomes pride…and then arrogance…
How lovely is your dwelling place oh Lord? who forgives my cobwebs, and unclean floors and lips…
A slow pilgrims journey toward gratitude….
Your comments are profound and poetic. You must be a writer. Thank you for sharing!
I have done well at embracing my limitations int the past few years. I am aging and have owned it. For aging, I thank God. There were many, including me, who placed poor odds on my living into middle age! I am grateful for my life and accepting of my physical limitations. That is not everything that I need to accept, but it is something. My weaknesses are mental-those burdens from the past, the poor self esteem. It is improving, but I am determined to rid myself of the physical appearance and the words that scream to others “I’m not good enough”. I will try to carry myself with head held high, but not haughty. I will think before I speak, not be in a hurry to people please, rather to please God and myself thereby attracting those people who belong in my life and are worthy of me. God, hear my prayer.
My weakness is being to ambitious and not letting God guide me. Instead of taking time to see what God wants me to do I try to take on to much and put myself in a situation that actually doesn’t help me out. Ever since I was baptized I felt called to live a religious life and that caused me to try to become a Brother in BSG which from the beginning wasn’t working out I struggled. For all my life I felt I had to prove that I can do what others thought I couldn’t do but its time for me to realize that its time to be what God wants me to be and to be ambitious in the right things. I strongly believe that God as called me to live out a religious life and maybe some day I will be able to become a monk and give my life completely or maybe I just am called to give my life completely to Him anyways. I can live like a monk without being a monk.
This is such a hard lesson for me, but it is right where I am. Some days my acceptance quotient is higher; others I struggle with my feelings of frailty and inadequacy. I have always been on the side of meeting needs; to have to be so in need of help myself is very challenging.
In the end though, the physical changes which are so difficult at times are the very things that are pushing me to make necessary changes in my life. If it were not for the fact that I cannot bully my pain into being ignored anymore, I would still be forging ahead with my unsustainable life.
This means huge changes on multiple fronts. Perhaps if I could befriend my frailties, this river of change could flow a bit easier.
I have developed a quick temper in the last year or so.
It stems, of course, not from anger but from fear.
I am afraid of a whole bunch of stuff – failure, judgment, loneliness, being thought a fraud… but fear is not something to express with anger. Fear-as-anger assures that the focus remains angry, emotionally violent – and that emotional (and spiritual) violence will never assuage fear. So, the cycle is perpetuated.
I absolutely love the idea of “befriending” my fear. I’d never heard it expressed quite that way. My fear needs a friend, to be honest. By befriending my fear, soothing it, listening to it, I discover that within the fear is a hope: I have a drive to do well, to serve meaningfully, to give my very best. So there’s a beautiful and positive side to my fear. By befriending my fear, and other limitations and liabilities, I can discover similar positives.
Lots to think about.
My emotional limits, due to introversion. It’s hard to be /ok with introversion in this culture
…embracing frailties can be something of choice, after an intellectual encounter, with the same…
…my experience has also been frailties can be caused when when ones’ great gifts are never called to use…e.g. once one realizes, after going through a death and dying experience w/a beloved, that they are now worthy of being the beloved (no longer just a lover) and this death experience leaves them with no more choices for being in deference to anyone, without a minimum thank you…what does it mean to embrace a frailty, that no longer allows you to be a crony/lover, hence you gifts our dismissed because deference & learning seem to be the way of the day…thank our Lord that he picked disciples, while walking the beach…..
Although forgetfulness can be frustrating, it’s also kind of fun. Once I realized that I was having more and more trouble remembering names of people, streets, and things as well as “spot losing” relatively common words (all just details, right?), I decided to have fun with it rather than get upset about it. Good thing. Now in my 60s, I find myself laughing at myself more and more. And not just forgetting names, numbers and words … my lysdexia seems to be happening more often, too. I still pride myself for my abilities, but I no longer scold myself and sulk if I’ve made a mistake. And ya know what? I no longer get angry with others when they make a mistake, either. As long as nobody gets hurt, anyway.
I was thinking about how one of the necessary adaptations I needed after my back became so bad was a cane. I’m permanently skewed to the left & can easily be bumped over with only the smallest nudge. Well, shortly after I’d come to the realization it was a necessary evil, I was not enjoying myself on a trip to the grocery store. I was thinking about how old it made me feel, how decrepit, how helpless, etc., etc. when out of the clear blue came a blessing. I had just finished loading grocercies in my car & was turning to take the cart back when a younger woman with kids came bouncing by grabbed my cart & said, “let me do that for you.” We exchange a smile, I thanked her & sat down in my car. I said to myself, “There’s the blessing. I’m going to meet lots of nice people do to this damn cane.”
I have learned/am learning to embrace my aging process. With this I am noticing that I am begin to be treated differently. That has been hard to embrace . Professors are in charge of teaching young adults who keep you alert. They are no longer a part of my life, as I meet them in the community I am well respected. I have learned to accept this affirmation. I have learned to embrace the changes in my body that come with a doctor for each part. The process becomes easier as time goes by and I truly appreciate. I realize that I have been blessed with age It is my responsibility to honor this blessing and to give as much as I am able to.
Tough question. I don’t see my self as having weaknesses. I can not move as easily as I would like to. I have a hard time getting up off of the ground. So my muscles are not what they were. I hate taking pain medication and I have to or I will not be able to function and pain brings up blood pressure. Exercise takes me days to recover from and I need it. So I make the best of what I can.
I have been a very active person throughout my life. Having witnessed my mother live out a healthy spiritual and physical life up to the age of 97yrs. She was my role-model and my spiritual guide. I made myself to believe that I had inherited all her strengths. But reality turned out different. I am now learning to accept my weaknesses and coming to the understanding that left or right God loves me. That in accepting my physical limitations, I have learned to put my pride aside and accept help from others. I have also grown spiritually to the extent that I can now dedicate time to myself and love myself without feeling guilty or selfish. As I continue on my journey, I pray to be relieved from the shackles of remaining weaknesses and limitations.
Thank you, Br. Jonathan and SSJE, for the
interesting meditation. i REALLY had to think about this one. Over the years I have tried hard to eradicate a lot of weaknesses (pride,etc). I have embraced my disabilities (simply put I have no finite motor skills in my left hand and due to the eye disorder Nystagmus I cannot drive on the interstate). When I first learned to drive my opthalmologist put me in glasses which further restricted my vision. So for the first ten years I
could not drive when headlights were required. That required very careful planning, lol. When that opthalmologist retired I had to get a new eye doctor (he was educated more recently ) and he
was able to see what my eyes could really see. I write all this for your understanding not for pity.
At 35, I found a very nice woman we fell in love. She has the same eye disorder. We complimented each other very well. What one could not do the other could. Unfortunately due to some developing mental health issues, after 13.5
of marriage, she decided she wanted to be alone.
We live in a sm. Southern town. It is a great place. However it is a “bedroom community” – people come here to be married and raise a family. They go elsewhere to work. There is no social scene
and what social groups there are – are pretty
much segregated by gender. Church would be a nice place to meet someone. The only eligible female at the local church is very nice and we
get along well but she is 21 years older …
I turned 50 last year and like some of the others in this group I am thinking about the aging process. Doing less than I can do now is a concern.
My daughter (step) has her own life and after my mother (who is aged and in failing health) I will not have any relatives left.
My weaknesses include timidity and being too unsociable . I want to get out there and make more friends, get actively involved in charity etc but I am too just happy to be on my own- donate online and my sociability is limited to family right now. Also, I’d like to attend church regularly but do not like going alone (my husband is not interested) but listen to faith programmes on the radio. My forebears were missionaries in India who intermarried and I always have to explain my background which puts me off. I I’ve lived in many countries due to my husband’s position and this process of restarting has worn me down a little. I thank God for my experiences and my life.
Since I am not perfect I realize that there are areas in my life that I cannot change and I am praying that I would have the courage to change the things that I can. Growing old is taking its toll; aches and pains, arthritis, lack of stamina and slow memory are all frailties that I am becoming more aware of.
Embracing weaknesses is difficult. Paradoxically I’m able to readily embrace others for their weaknesses, while I’m unable or unwilling to see my own. The practice of mindfulness has taught me that I need a sense of humor in order to integrate those things I experience as weaknesses without doing too much damage to my sense of self. Right now, tonight, as it is many nights, my weakness is a lack of faith.
I sometimes feel skepticism when overt spirituality is displayed. I almost feel ashamed for the other person, or persons. I am a very introverted type of person and I don’t really like outward displays, they make me uncomfortable. Maybe I can befriend this by working on knowing that this is their way, and it is just as good as my own. I could work on being a little less inward, and being outward for other peoples sake.
Just into my 50s, I begin to see how we start to falter in strength and the speed of recuperation isn’t what it once was, either.
I also notice that people are starting to treat me differently. I’m beginning to look like an old man!
All of this is occasionally frustrating and even startling, but I do my best to keep to the fore the things I can still do and do them. Limitations are encroaching, but I’m not done yet!
So I get off the bus more carefully than I used to (no bounding off like a kid anymore!) and I try to be mindful of what I eat and when (diabetes is manageable, but it does take managing!) and I continue to write and perform to the best of my ability at this stage of life. At least with writing, so long as my brain doesn’t start failing me (and I’m aware that it could), I have many years of enjoyable and meaningful activity ahead of me.
I am trying to embrace my lack of patience for some I love dearly because I know God loves me with all my imperfections. Even thought I try to stay in shape, I am realizing I do have limitations from time to time and will try to embrace those times as times to be nearer to God in prayer or reflection.
Arthritis and lapses of memory have limited my ability to do the things I used to do which was difficult as I am an active person. As physical changes continue to appear I have come to accept and embrace these changes as my new reality.
I embrace my impatience and lack of kindness, often for those I want to love the most. Into your hands, God, I commend my spirit. You know and love me. You are the source of all patience and kindness. I place my desires, my failures, my efforts, my trying again and again, my successes in your hands.
This is a really tough one for me to address because I don’t like the idea of limitations or weaknesses starting to creep in as I get older. I’m always looking to improve & evolve and get better and this goes against that . I find it really difficult to accept with Grace changes within my physical or mental being , because it’s frightening to me. It signifies a loss of control over my own self which I find extremely difficult to give over to God or whomever. I don’t know how to let that fear or resistance go …
maybe you could embrace this lack of control as a good thing, because it is letting God be the one in control of your life. Letting go is frightening, but the outcome is abundant life.
I just can’t seem to get organized to leave the house on time so I’m late arriving.
As I age I am realizing that all my life I have been unusually sensitive to the emotional currents running around in any group, or even in nature: a gift of paying attention to everything. I think it is the same physical/brain wiring gift that has allowed me to see the presence of God in many strange and odd ways. However from childhood I have been told that it was my responsibility to fix things, and I have either not had the slightest clue how or have been faced with people who don’t want to be fixed! Starting with a mentally ill grandmother: I’m sure now that my parents simply thought having a little kid around might cheer her up, but her problems went far too deep for any 5-yr-old and I felt a failure. I am finally coming to realize that the sensitivity is much better employed in prayer and being available should a particular service that I can provide be asked of me. It’s still very hard for me to make my availability known, knowing that I may (likely) will not be able to “fix” people.
When I consider weaknesses, I am not usually thinking of my physical self, but my spiritual one. So, I might befriend my disappointment and despair as understanding that I am not yet the person God intends me to be, or as a signpost to my continued reliance on the world for affirmation when I could be turning to God instead. I might befriend my anger as a tool to uncover the hurt I must embrace for my own healing. The acceptance of imperfection clarifies the work I must undertake for growth.
I am so blessed. I am ‘old’ and only suffer with what Brother Jonathan writes are “the various limitations that come about through age.’
Old age brings its freedoms though. I no longer feel compelled to become involved in projects, groups that want me to be part of them. I do what I know that I can do and am pleased to carry them out, but on my terms. Is that selfish? As a younger woman I was involved but not now.
The other side of ageing for me. is a growing compassion for those around me and those whose lives are hell in this war-torn world. And, on a personal and family level I find challenges – that mixtures of joy and sadness. One of my granddaughters has just been accepted into medical school. We are all ecstatic for her and wish and want everything that is good for her. But there is a shadow in this joy. Her younger sister has had to struggle through her school days, and continues to have a difficult time at university. How must her sister’s success and joy affect her. When I was young, I might never have thought about that. Three thousand miles distant – I cannot do anything for her. Not so. I can pray to God to be with her and grant her his loving care. Blessings. Christina
As long as I can remember, I have worked against what I perceived as a weakness. But as I grew and understood nothing was going to change the situation, I began to understand this issue has given me some of my greatest strengths as well. It has been a process, but I now know I would not change things even if it were possible. God protected me from myself even when I thought I knew the way Learning to live with the limitation/weakness has proven to be the something that has given me the most
I seek to embrace aging and the limitations it imposes on me. I am still surprised and deplore my daily pain and inability to be active for longer than half a day. The daily shock of sagging jowls, stubborn weight gain and dimming eyes I need to embrace. I loved my mother when she was old. Now I must learn to love myself. How important strength and competence have been to me in this life. Now I must be grateful for my frailties which impose a new reality that help me on my path. “We are remade in Christ’s image” an image of humility, acceptance and gratitude. Lord, hear my prayer.
Thank you, Brother Jonathan. I needed to hear those words. I’m 79 years old and have recently gone through therapy for cancer. I dislike and even fear the bodily weakness and memory lapses that the medical treatment has brought about. Aging too has played a part in my condition. I don’t know if I can “embrace” my frailties, but I’m trying to at least accept them. If grace is everywhere, which I believe it is, God is at work in this process.
I have a mental illness that surfaced due to stress in my late 40s. It runs in the family, but I thought I was a lucky one. Five years later, I am still trying to relax and embrace the disruptions this disease brings about on occassions. It has given me enormous compassion for people. I have never walked in their shoes. I don’t know their life story. This helps judgement stop from entry my mind, and opens a heart of compassion.
My middle son has been very sick now several times in the last 10 years and we almost lost him now 3 times with a bout just yesterday. He lives on the other side of the US so there isn’t an easy way of quickly getting to his side. So it’s hard on both my wife and I not to be there as we were when he was a child. So I need more than ever to place my trust into God’s grace for our child now a grown man.
I have a difficult time concentrating; my mind and body moves from thing to thing all the time. Since this weakness is something I have just notice about myself in my later years, it is a new friend, a friend I have to get to know better, a friend I have to love. I pray that I can embrace it as such.
From 2 Corinthians 12, …for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Feeling like I could conquer the world as a young woman, now in my senior years it is a blessing to relax. While the pressures to excel may still be there, I find now that it is okay to not put myself through the same pace I once did. There’s beauty in the stillness of simply “being” that, in contrast, is missing in the “doing.”
I don’t know if this counts as it is a self-imposed limitation. We do not own a car and limit how often we make use of zipcar. In our lives this has helped us to focus on being apart of our local community.
On another level, I have back pain which I too often neglect. Eventually that pain pushes me back to my yoga practice which is both physical and spiritual for me. I had never thought about being grateful for back pain before. Thank you.
I embrace my tendency to be reactive or judgemental around prideful people or those who have an attitude toward me. I notice but do not judge myself when lustful or critical thoughts arise in my mind. I will forgive myself and ask forgiveness of others whose feelings I inadvertently hurt.
I embrace my physical weakness as I head off to physical therapy this morning for the first time to treat degenerative disc disease and back pain. I am growing more aware of the frailty of life, grateful for each day I can walk upright now. I also embrace the spiritual/mental weakness of not feeling “good enough,” thinking that I can “do” more to earn the love of God and others.
I embrace my weknesses of intolerance for others lack of acceptance of others overindulgence in food and drink and clothes. I also embrace my weaknesses which I am not aware of or to vain to mention or realize. I know these are part of me … Please help me to grow into the fullness . Amen