It was the day after Christmas 2019 and I was back at work finalizing details for upcoming trade shows. Returning to work after a holiday is always difficult, but I didn’t anticipate just how difficult it would be. After only an hour or two of sitting in my quiet, windowless office, I started to feel overwhelmed. By the time lunch rolled around I was having a complete meltdown—bawling in my car, swearing, and praying. I kept telling God I was “so tired” and it’s “so much.” It was a familiar feeling. It’s the feeling I always have when I come to the end of things. God was calling me to new life and telling me it was time to move on in more ways than one. I had reached my limit.
I returned to my office after lunch that day and kept the door closed. The pile-on was impossible to keep up with, which was especially awful considering I had numerous deadlines to meet. I was killing myself trying to meet my unrealistic expectations, pushing my limits to meet the demand. I’m not ashamed to say I cried more than once that afternoon as the weight of my work became too much to carry. Even so, it was easier to do the work myself rather than ask others to help. I didn’t want to add to their list of never-ending tasks. Why should I be the weak one? Besides, in the time it would have taken to train someone else, I could have done the job myself.
I ended up on a vicious merry-go-round spinning faster and faster. Although I knew I should be shouting at the top of my lungs that I wanted off, I couldn’t seem to find my voice. I kept telling myself I should be able to handle it; it’s not that big a deal. Everyone is counting on me. I steeled myself and executed the task well—promising I would never put that much pressure on myself again.
The Bible says we are to work “for the Lord, not for human masters,” (Colossians 3:23) and if I couldn’t accomplish every single thing on my to-do list, I felt like I was failing God somehow. But the pace I set for myself was unsustainable. I knew He didn’t love me because of how much I could produce, but that hadn’t yet settled into my heart. He created me the way He did for a reason, set boundaries for me as a person, and I needed to find contentment within those boundaries. I wanted to believe along with King David that He had set them for me in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6). Those boundaries don’t make me weak—on the contrary, I am strong when I stay within the limits that a good Father has set for me. Trying to be someone other than who God designed me to be was a waste of time. And for those of us bent on efficiency, that simply will not do.
I heard a quote not too long ago—I’m guessing it was on a podcast—where author Pete Scazzero said, “We find God’s will for our lives in our limitations.” I am learning that if I find myself in a place where I am always stressed out, burnt out, and emotionally spent—it isn’t a healthy place for me to remain long term. Don’t get me wrong, no matter where you find yourself, at some point you will run into a measure of stress. The difference is in recognizing a stressful season versus a stressful all-the-time. Stress can’t be sustained. At some point, you’ll break.
We as a culture tend to think of limitations as this horrible, constricting thing. The truth is, knowing your boundary lines means knowing what you’re working with. And if you know what you’re working with, you can get busy building something incredible. Instead of thinking that those boundary lines are constricting, begin asking God what’s possible within them.
Trying to be someone other than who God designed me to be was a waste of time. And for those of us bent on efficiency, that simply will not do.
Of course, God doesn’t always show us the answers to things right away; He allows us to trust Him in the waiting. Over the next several months a new path began to take shape. It became clear that my family needed help with some things and moving back to my childhood home for a while was going to be the best way to accomplish this. My parents’ home was an hour away from my job, and at the end of the day, this was the thing that prompted me to resign.
In the little over a month since I quit my job, I have begun working on projects that are life-giving to me on a timeline that doesn’t burn me out. I have no idea what the future will hold or how this will translate into future employment, but I feel like I am running in my lane now. I am working at a pace that is comfortable for me, where I don’t feel like I’m losing my mind. Right now living within my boundaries means taking this one day at a time and being faithful to do what each day requires. It is enough.