I saw my ribs the other day. Not that they haven’t been there all along, but it’s November and I haven’t really even looked at myself since May. I saw them in a quick moment before hopping in the shower and, for some reason, I found them surprising. Ribs. Visible ribs, jutting out a little more than I recall (you know, last time I checked for such things.)
Well, that makes no sense, I thought to myself. How can I have visible ribs, when my body is not at its thinnest, when I could still stand a few crunches, when I’m not ready to concede that this is the width of my body, of myself.
But there they were, plain as can be and reminding me the very real truth that it doesn’t get any narrower, I cannot get any smaller here. This is bone. Hard and permanent. This is not crunchable, dietable, movable. This is me.
Of course, I thought, I can still do crunches to try and flatten out this stomach. But then, just as quickly as the thought appeared, it was followed by the obvious: there will always reach a point when enough is enough, when flat can’t get any flatter. There will always be a limit. I am limited being.
These bones are my unchanging, unmovable, boundaries. This is my width and I cannot be less.
What an amazing realization of the obvious.
I am limited.
I am limited, physically. There are things I cannot change. Bones, for example. The number of freckles on my cheeks, the way my second toe is the same length as my first.
I am limited, personally. I cannot be everything to everyone. I cannot do all things all of the time, cannot fill my calendar and every waking moment with busyness that I think is headed toward some (unobtainable) purpose. I am limited.
I am a limited being, doing my best with these bones, with whatever gifts or talents I have been given, but I will let go. I will learn to say the word that my daughter Evaline loves dearest – No.
Not because I don’t want to help or I don’t want to share, but because I am coming to accept that I am this width and I can be no more (and no less.)
And for the moments when this becomes an overwhelming reality, I need to remember to lift my eyes to the only One who is limitless. The one who made me, with these freckles and these limits. The one who designed these ribs to be just as they are.
And that’s amazing too.