What to Do When You Reach Your Limit

My youngest daughter has a solar system project due on Friday. Most of the kids in her class will make models or posters showing the sun, eight planets and dwarf planet pluto. But did that kind of project appeal to my daughter? No. She wanted to make a video where she is the tour guide to the planets. I had planned for her to work on her project a little at a time over spring break. However, between her being sick and our car being in the shop, that didn't happen. So, yesterday, we tackled the project. I spent an hour with her making planets out of posterboard. Remember, we just got home from vacation on Tuesday night. She was tired after many late nights and a full day of school. By the time we were done making our planets, I had reached my limit on patience, so I asked my husband if he could help her look up facts about the planets after supper.

As I sat in my chair and watched them work together, I realized that my husband was tired and so was my youngest. The combination of the two was not working out well. Both had reached their limits. My youngest was out of energy and had exhausted her ability to concentrate. My husband had run out of patience and energy. They finally finished and I sent both of them to bed.

None of us have limitless reserves of patience, time, energy or wisdom. Our wells eventually run dry. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and as much as a I hate to admit it, I reach my physical limitations much faster than a lot of people. There are times when I simply have to say, "I can't do that." While you may not have a chronic disease, factors exist in your life that make you reach your limits. Our kids reach their limits, too. A tired, hungry child is much less likely to be obedient and respectful than a rested, well-fed one.

When Jesus came to earth, He experienced the same limitations that we do. He got tired. He got hungry. The difference between us and Jesus is that when He reached His limits, He didn't sin. But the other difference between us and Him is that He knew what to do when He reached those limits. Just after Jesus fed the 5,000, he sent the crowds away. Matthew 14:22-23 says, "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray."

Many times in His life, Jesus reached the limit of his physical resources. When He did, He sent everyone away and turned to God to refresh Him. When we reach our limits, and when our kids reach theirs, it may be time to send everyone away and let God refresh you.

When someone in your family has reached their limit -- whether it's evidenced by a cranky mom or a crying child -- follow these steps to refresh your family.

1. Identify the problem. A child sobbing over the smallest thing or a mom biting the heads off of those around her for nor reason are generally good signs that someone has reached her limit. Recognize that the problem is not whatever set off the crying child or the irritable mom. The problem may be that both are overtired or simply hungry. Too much activity in a day can create the same results.

2. Deal with the root of the issue. Once you've identified the problem, choose the best way to fix it. Do you need to have a snack? Does your child need a nap? Maybe you all just need some time apart.

3. Create some space. When I've reached my limit on patience, I need some time away from my kids. Whether that means sending everyone to their rooms to play for an hour or actually leaving the house for some time alone, creating some space between me and my kids makes me a better mom. I've even been known to go hang out in the bathroom for a few minutes to create that space.

4. Seek the source of true refreshment. Turn the situation over to God. Ask Him to refill your reserves of patience and love. Ask Him for the answers. He won't fail to give them to you.

5. Apologize, if needed. No matter how far we've been stretched, no matter if we're hungry or tired, we are still responsible for our actions. If you've said or done something that hurt your kids, then apologize. If your child has said or done something that hurt someone else, require an apology.

When we acknowledge that we don't have limitless reserves to deal with every situation, we are showing wisdom. Whatever situations you encounter today that stretch your patience, make you tired or frustrate you, remember that it's OK to create some space between you and your family members so you can seek refreshment from the true Source of wisdom, patience and love.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.