Our Capacity and His

As I laid on the wooden ‘cot’ and looked at the wall that was covered in spit, all I could hear was the technician say “disfunction … disfunction … disfunction …” I knew something was desperately wrong, but I had no idea what or why.

20 years before that fateful day, I had open heart surgery to repair a hole that had been found in my heart when I was pregnant with our oldest son. I had the surgery, that thankfully ended up being minimally invasive, and was out of the hospital in 5 days and back to work 3 weeks later. My cardiologist told me that I would always have irregular heartbeats and that was just a normal heart rhythm for my body.

We moved overseas 10 years later. I had never been to the country that we moved to, and little did I know how much stress and emotions were going to be involved in our transition. If I am nothing else, I am diligent and determined. So when the challenges kept coming in our adjustment to a new culture and country, I just kept pushing through and I was determined to do what God had called me to do!

8 years after we moved overseas I found myself laying on that wooden plank of a cot hearing those frightful words. Just the night before, my husband and I had gone to a nice hotel in our city to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I had trouble walking down the hallways of the hotel because I was so tired. I told myself I just needed some rest. We had been in a very intense time in our ministry and I knew that I was ‘just tired.’ We went to dinner and although I didn’t have much of an appetite, I ordered some soup. I found myself looking at my soup after it had been served, and it looked really good! I wanted to eat it, but then I caught myself thinking that the spoon laying next to my soup bowl just looked so heavy. What? My spoon looks too heavy? What’s going on here? Those were the thoughts going on in my mind as I looked across the table at my husband who was talking, but I had no ability to focus. I realized something was wrong and I needed to tell him that I was having these thoughts. So I did.

The next day, I found myself at a very crowded heart hospital here getting the news that I had congestive heart failure. I was only 41 years old. My Dad had passed away when he was 42. I fought hard to believe that this was not my time too.

After many appointments with many different doctors, I finally learned that after my heart surgery, it was very common for someone with my condition to have a weakened heart and then congestive heart failure. The doctors that I met with were surprised that no one had told me this, but yet no one had.

Just a few months prior to this diagnosis, I had been mulling over the idea of ‘capacities’. I was trying to find scriptures to support the idea biblically that we don’t have capacities in our bodies mentally, emotionally, or physically but we are aligned with Christ. With him we can do ALL things, right? Isn’t that what the scripture reads?

Yes, Philippians 4:13 does say that. Matthew 11:29-30 also says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I had to reconcile and realize that we do have capacities. God does not, but we do. Connected to Christ we give him our tensions, difficulties, and every other kind of trouble that comes our way. We don’t keep them. He is the one that can carry that load so that our load is light. We don’t have to carry these heavy burdens. Our bodies and minds were not made for that, because we have God to do that for us.

For 4 months, I couldn’t walk farther than 10 or 15 feet at a time as I recovered. I am a doer, I am the woman you want on your team to figure out how to get something done and do it, that’s my gifting. As I sat countless hours on my couch and laid in my bed, I lamented the state of my body and my capacity. I was angry that everything in our ministry had come to a complete halt because of my weakness. It was during that time that I had to concede that I have limits. I had to recognize that being connected to Christ does not make me limitless in mind, body or soul. Being connected to Christ allows me to see how unlimited he is while at the same time admitting my limits and my complete dependence on him to do anything.

It’s been 7 years since my congestive heart failure diagnosis. I am more in tune with my body than I have ever been. I know when I need to slow down and accept my limits. I am working on accepting them with joy—I will get there—but as for now I am thankful to be able to see how much God works on my behalf when I’ve reached full capacity. I can lean on him because I know he has capacity for everything I need!

How do you know when you have reached your limit physically? What about emotionally and spiritually?

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  1. Jenilee June 21, 2022

    Thank you for sharing your story! I often feel this tension of capacity and allowing God to handle things in his way, learning to work within limits and boundaries. Thank you!

    1. lynn June 22, 2022

      that tension is real, isn’t it? I think it’s something sill be leaning my whole life. Hopefully I’ll keep getting a little better at it along the way …

  2. Lauren June 22, 2022

    Wonderful. Thank you so much for this – it resonates!

    1. Lynn June 22, 2022

      You’re welcome, glad to know I’m not alone!

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