Self-limitation

I have had my current desk since 2005. For the entire time I have lamented the fact that the bottom left hand drawer does not pull out far enough. It seemed like more hanging folders should have been able to fit into the drawer. It was just about five inches too short, or so it seemed.

The other day I opened the drawer, and wonder of wonders, it came out farther than ever before. I was shocked. (And if you are thinking it does not take much to surprise me, you would be absolutely correct. I honestly stared at the wide opened drawer with my mouth open--Gomer Pyle like. Shazam!)

I accepted the limitations of the too short drawer for nine years, never questioning why or seeking a solution. I just assumed that was the best for which I could hope.

A drawer is one thing. Purposely limiting ourselves in life is another thing entirely. How many challenges have you refused to accept because you just assumed, “That’s not me.” How often do you say no because it sounds better than risking failure? In my work with churches in capital campaigns, I meet ministers who are afraid of fundraising. They begin the campaign with dread, treating it like a trip to the dentist--necessary but not enjoyable. Yet with coaching and encouragement they grow, they learn new skills and frankly some find out they are really good at it.

Here is an idea for next week. Divide your life into four quadrants—personal, professional, spiritual and family. Think through the ways you are presently limiting yourself in each of these categories. Be gut level honest with yourself. Where are you selling yourself short?

Now determine one action step for each area of your life. Plan a surprise trip for your wife even though you hate planning trips. Memorize a section of scripture that you really think you cannot do. Accept a challenging assignment at work. Start exercising again for the 20th time.

We tell our children, “You can do anything you want to do.” Yet, even as we say it we know it is not true. I could never dunk a basketball and could not hit a curve. My future in professional sports was not going to happen. Life is filled with limitations.

It is not what I can’t do that bothers me anymore. It is what I might be able to do, but alas I never try.