Posts tagged " limits "

What Are Your Limits?

March 1st, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting No Comment yet

Have you read, as I have, of church services in colonial times where very young children were expected to sit quietly for hours on end? Perhaps for entertainment a little girl was given a piece of cloth shaped into a doll, but basically sitting still was demanded. Forget getting up and running around —fidgeting was taboo!

I don’t know how true these accounts are, but I sometimes wonder why we can’t even imagine our three-year-olds being motionless for an extended period. Does our children’s level of activity have to do with antibiotics in our milk and meat supply and other chemical changes in our surroundings? Or is this a case of a lowering of social expectations? After all, few adults today are comfortable sitting with their own thoughts. Would a teen today find it far-fetched to believe that children used to sit on car rides for hours doing nothing other than looking out of the window?

Is a baby born today physically different from one born a few centuries ago? Is he different from one born today into a foreign country and culture where the expectations vary? The nature vs. nurture argument is never-ending because both elements contribute to human development.

A classmate of mine had a brother who was ten years older than us. He often scoffed at her schoolwork  complaints, claiming that the teachers (who had been his as well) were going easy on us. He was probably accurate. Standards do seem, in general, to be getting lower and lower. College students today would fail many an eighth-grade test from seventy years ago.

We can debate whether sitting still for a long time or knowing how to mentally calculate percentages are necessary and useful skills. (Yes, they are.) There are certainly many child-raising customs that none of us think back upon nostalgically. But, I do wonder if it would even be possible to expect fulfillment of some things that were considered standard and normal in the past.

We actually have no idea what our capabilities are. When we see a gymnast contort her body or a spelling champion familiarize herself with thousands of words, we marvel at what they can do but don’t expect the same of ourselves. And, certainly, we each have individual strengths, weaknesses and barriers to achievement. Nevertheless, it is intriguing to think what would happen if we stretched our demands of ourselves and our children just beyond what we think is possible? Might we actually rise to the challenge?

More? Sure! Everything? Never!

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 26 comments

A business professional in Michigan named Ken Lingenfelter owns about 230 cars.  Entertainer Jay Leno has about 170 and Jerry Seinfeld owns about 150.  Each of those avid car collectors has a list of a few more cars that he’d really love to acquire but knows he probably won’t.  Healthy people eventually recognize that nobody gets everything they want. 

Even when we acquire what we want, we usually find ourselves wanting more, putting us back to square one.  God created us with infinite desires. Happiness depends upon knowing that not all ambitions and longings can or should be realized.

This message is so important for humans to absorb that it is presented as a set of bookends to the Torah, appearing both at the beginning and at the end.  It is as if the good Lord is saying, “Look, life has a huge paradox.  I have created you with limitless ambition, countless hopes, and inexhaustible dreams.  I want you to pursue those boundless visions but I don’t want your happiness to depend upon attaining them.” 

The first person mentioned in the Five Books of Moses is Adam and the last  is Moses.  Both men experienced three steps; (1) Presentation of abundance; (2) Limitation; (3) Death notice.   

First, the presentation of abundance:

Adam:

From all the trees in the Garden you are free to eat and you should eat. (Genesis 2:16)

Moses:

Moses climbed up from the plains of Moab up onto Mount Nebo… and the Lord showed him the whole land…(Deuteronomy 34:1)

Second, the limitation:

Adam:

And from the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you may not eat of it…(Genesis 2:17)

Moses:

This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over into it.  (Deuteronomy 34:4)

Third, the death notice:

Adam:

…On the day that you eat of it, you will die. (Genesis 2:17)

Moses:

And Moses the servant of God died there…  (Deuteronomy 34:5)

Adam saw a garden with more delectable resources than any person could imagine.  God immediately informs him that he doesn’t get everything.  Nonetheless,  Adam and Eve try for everything and are reminded for all time that life has its limit.  The secret is enjoying what one does have.

Born in the exile of the Egyptian diaspora, Moses dreamed of the land of Israel which he knew had been promised to his seven-time-great-grandfather, Abraham.  God selected him to bring to fruition the Hebrews’ return to Israel.  For forty interminable, trying years in the desert, Moses longed for Israel. He is then shown the land.  Scripture uses as many as thirty-three words to describe the full expanse of Israel that he saw.  However, his vision was limited to seeing it from the top of a mountain outside the land. Shortly after, he transited to the spiritual world in which there are no limitations. 

Whether we are driven to acquire automobiles or anything else, we must remember that the urge for limitlessness is a Godly impulse ingrained in us.  It is from our limitless Creator that we inherit our desires for the infinite.  As humans, we should enjoy the process and find happiness in the quest without mortgaging our fulfillment to attaining everything—an impossible task.

In relationships, too, we sometimes sacrifice our happiness on the altar of ‘wanting it all.’  Sometimes we concentrate on the flaws of children and friends rather than appreciating their strengths. In dating and marriage, this tendency can be even more pronounced. So many people never marry as they wait for “the perfect match.” Focusing on a spouse’s imperfections provides a quick path to frustration. For those looking to date and stay married more successfully, take a look at our Lasting Love Set. Save money by purchasing three complementary resources at one time and use them wisely as you strive to fulfill the inborn desire to share life with one unique partner within a world of limitation.

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