Thursday, February 22, 2018

Capacity overload

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Serve - to render assistance, be of help, be useful. The actions of service are not always as evident today as they may have been in a time when our pace was slower and our lives were a little less "cluttered" with all manner of distractions. I was watching a series of shows called "Little Men" over the past couple of days and observed several 'actions of service' that stemmed from a desire to honor another, create something meaningful another could put to use, etc. In the last episode I observed something akin to someone being on "overload". Deadlines were approaching, unexpected changes in circumstances were making demands on the individual's time, and it was getting harder and harder for her to 'keep up'. Because of the extreme 'overload' the character was carrying, the things she once enjoyed so much became an extreme burden to her. What once was 'service' - the giving of one's self - was now a burden. We cannot simply say "simpler times" made the difference in service, for the human heart is capable of taking on much more than is humanly possible to accomplish!

It is to freedom that you have been called, my brothers. Only be careful that freedom does not become mere opportunity for your lower nature. You should be free to serve each other in love. For after all, the whole Law toward others is summed up by this one command, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. (Galatians 5:13-14)

What once was enjoyable can become a load too heavy to carry any longer when we continue to 'take on' load and never stop to consider the 'weight' of the load. I could pile bricks into the back of my SUV, but eventually the load would become too heavy for the springs. Just because there is 'space' left doesn't mean that it is wise to put any more load into that space, my friends! We all know individuals who take on more and more, very capable of doing almost anything they put their mind and effort into. One day, there is a subtle shift in the attitude they had toward those things, though. What happened? The capacity and capability factors didn't match. Capability doesn't always indicate there is a capacity to do whatever may be before you. Sometimes the wisest thing to do is admit that although you have the ability to do something, you are not the right person to be doing it right now. The timing may be off slightly, the resources may be scarcer than you might like to admit. God asks us to serve, yes, but with wisdom.

We are free to serve, but when service puts us back into bondage, it is no longer service! It is a prison we desire to escape! If we were to be honest with ourselves, we had that niggling somewhere "back there" that indicated we were taking on way more than we should have, but we didn't listen. It may not be the easiest thing to admit it now, but it could be the most liberating thing for us to actually step back and allow another to take over. In fact, by taking on what we did not really have the capacity to take on, we may have limited another's ability to engage in their actions of service! Did you ever stop to think of it that way? Maybe the thing we find so burdensome isn't because it is 'hard work', but because the work has become hard for us as we are constantly straining under the load of all the work! It is always good to step back once every now and again to just evaluate where it is we are called to serve. At this season in my life, it is in service to my aging mother. Some may desire me to take on more, but for now, this is what I am capable of doing and what I have the capacity to accomplish. If you find there is a mismatch between your capability and your capacity, it may very well be time to hand over some of what has you extended beyond your capacity! Just sayin!