All of us live within limits. This is a paradox. It is a paradox because we tell the catechumens that God’s love has no limits. God can overcome any obstacle. We tell the catechumens that no matter what their situation or their history, God will show them a solution.
We say that. And at the same time we are saying it, we are submitting to our perceptions of our own limits. When I think of what limits me, and when I talk with team members, I notice three areas of limitation.
- We limit our personal potential
- We limit the potential of our teams
- We limit the potential of our parishes
Examples of personal limits
Have you ever said, I don’t have enough time? How about, I’m so disorganized? Have you ever been frustrated because you didn’t know how? Have you ever thought or said that you’re not smart enough? I know I have. All of these statements are false. Nevertheless, we tell ourselves these things, and we submit to our limits.
Examples of team limits
You’re probably way ahead of me. Fill in the blank: We don’t have enough ______. What is it you don’t have enough of? Team members? Volunteers? Sponsors? Catechumens? Resources? These cries of not enough are also false. We have and have and have in abundance! We have exactly what God has sent us—and God has sent us a lot. Even so, instead of reveling in God’s limitless gifts, we—like Adam and Eve—focus on what we don’t have. It is the original sin.
Examples of parish limits
There seem to be two types of parishes in the world. Parishes that used to be perfect before X happened. And parishes that would be perfect if only Y would get fixed. We tend to focus on the pastor, the preaching, the ethnic mix, the age demographic, or the school (or lack of a school) as insurmountable problem areas. Naming any of these—or any other element of the parish—as a limitation is another falsehood. The parish we used to have was never as perfect as we remember. The parish of the future will never be like we imagine. And the parish we are in now is not as hopeless as we sometimes tell ourselves. What the parish is is the People of God—the people God has called together in this time and in this place. Either God made a mistake or we are missing something.
How big is your limit?
Did I name your biggest limitation in any of these examples? Maybe not. Whatever your limitation is, whatever your roadblock, write it down. If you have more than one, write them all down. Place your list of limits on a card or piece of paper on your desk. Every day for the next seven days, look at each limit on your list and ask yourself: Is this one too big for God to handle?
I’ve done this. Here’s what happens. When I try to bring my own limits before God, a clanging Yes, but—alarm goes off in my head. Yes, God can take care of this, but God hasn’t done so yet. Or, Yes, God can move that limit, but then another one pops up. Or, Yes, God can do anything, but I don’t have enough faith or I’m being tested. False, false, false!
So then I have to change my prayer. I simply pray that God will give me the courage of faith. I pray for the strength to believe that, no matter how big and how strong my limit seems, there is nothing there. I pray for the strength to believe that everything on my list is, in fact, not a limit—but an opportunity.
I’ll say more about converting limits into opportunities in the next post.
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