The Grace of Limits


When we are counting our blessings it tends to be pretty easy to forget to count the things that we cannot do. I know when I’m in a good mood, it is rarely because I’ve just remembered how bad I am at math, or that I can’t seem to learn any more than a few words in any other languages. I rarely thank God for the many other limitations that are woven into my being.

What I miss here is that in each of my limits I am called and challenged to depend on others. My inability to play music means that I need people who can sustain a mad riff or hit the right notes. My inability to manage maths beyond simple multiplication means I am required to rely upon those who can. On a deeper level, I can’t dream of understanding the beauty of the Scriptures unless I am aided by those who’ve learnt ancient Aramaic, Greek or Latin.

Here it seems God has been working in his classically sneaky way again. Of the many inabilities that we all have God creates a beautiful gift. In these limits God doesn’t only cause us to rely on one another, but goes deeper to bring us together. He calls us into communion with one another. Where we find our limitations we encounter others. Perhaps the best way to envision this is to think of a divine jigsaw puzzle. God creates each of us like a jigsaw piece with the same little empty spaces as well as the extra bits. It is only when we come together that we can come closer to being complete; to making up the image of God that He has hidden so graciously among us.

The perfect example of this is in Christ’s very Bride. The Church is a truly masterful work of this loving mystery. This Mystical Body can be easily imagined as an enormous and complex jigsaw puzzle; a great meeting of limitations and gifts.

 In this puzzle we can delve into the depths of God with our historians giving us lessons on the culture of the Jews, musicians stirring our very souls, speakers rousing us to action, repentant sinners witnessing God’s mercy, mystics leading us into contemplation and simple-saints helping us to see love lived out. It may sound like this is a discussion of our God given gifts and talents but the Church is called together by God in the form of our limits as much as our strengths.

Pride however, does not abide such a communion.

With pride urging us on we want to be perfect, to do it all, we want to make ourselves gods. Our pride resists our desire to rely on God and so brings us to viewing our limits as brokenness. We start to think of depending on others as a curse. We fear admitting our limitations to others because we perceive this as acknowledging weakness. We can overcome this as our Saints have shown us for we are made in the image of a communal God and so it is in our very make up to be in communion with one another; it is our origin and our destiny.

At the end of the day the only truly broken jigsaw puzzle piece would be a perfect square.
So let us give thanks for the little spaces God left empty inside each of us, let us revel in our limitations.

Father, let  me boldly choose to view my limitations as blessings that bring me into relationship with those around me.

Llywellyn is a 19 year old Canberra boy, he was baptised as an Anglican, blessed by a Buddhist and raised nothing in particular; brought into the Church only for a better chance at getting into Marist College Canberra. It was here through the Brothers, teachers and his Mother that Jesus made His move. Llywellyn was swept off his feet and even through struggles with his sin, pride and weakness he fell more deeply in love with Christ and His Church day by day. He is currently a youth and hospital minister, co-ordinator of Young Marists Canberra and a student.