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I Am Not My Limitations

Another mistaken view is that who I am is determined by my illness, my weakness, my limitations.  I am naturally shy, soft-spoken, and reserved, personality traits too often seen as character flaws in our bold and boisterous American society.  I am much more comfortable behind the scenes than on center stage.  I am claustrophobic in crowds, nervous about driving in city traffic, and somewhat technologically challenged.   And looming large over everything is the clinical depression that has been part of my life for decades.
Parker J. Palmer has been instrumental in helping me come to healthy terms with these issues. 
'My life is not only about my strengths and virtues; it is also about my liabilities and my limits, my trespasses and my shadow.  An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for ‘wholeness’ is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.'  Let Your Life Speak pp 6-7
'Embracing the mystery of depression does not mean passivity or resignation.  It means moving into a field of forces that seems alien but is in fact one’s deepest self.  It means waiting, watching, listening, suffering, and gathering whatever self-knowledge one can – and then making choices based on that knowledge, no matter how difficult.  One begins the slow walk back to health by choosing each day things that enliven one’s selfhood and resisting things that do not.'  LYLS 59-60
'Despite the American myth, I cannot be or do whatever I desire…Our created natures make us like organisms in an ecosystem:  there are some roles and relationships in which we thrive and others in which we wither and die.'  LYLS p 44
'Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.  Vocation does not come from a voice ‘out there’ calling me to become something I am not.  It comes from a voice ‘in here’ calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.'  LYLS p 10
These passages give me reassurance and hope that even those characteristics that are seen as disadvantages serve a divinely ordained purpose in my life.  John Michael Talbot, in his book Simplicity, offers this analogy:  ‘Our lives need to be channeled and directed, much like a river.’  Without banks, the river would spread out into a meandering marsh, losing much of its strength and momentum.  Similarly, my life needs certain boundaries, even those dictated by my weaknesses, in order to flow with purpose and direction.   

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