He probably doesn’t remember that conversation. But his words continue to rebuke and instruct me 30 years later. As I sat across a table from this Wise Man in the Student Union at the University of New Mexico, he looked straight in my eyes and said, “Finiteness is not a sin.”
I heard the voice of that Wise Man speak to me again this past week. (Sometimes those tapes in your head are a good thing!) I had to face facts: I can’t do everything I thought I could in this transition. I don’t have to. It’s not a sin. That Wise Man taught me that we are made to be finite. “And it was good.” It’s part of the nature of being human; something to be embraced and appreciated. My mental, emotional, and physical capacities, while capable of a good deal, are limited by design. And that’s good. My spiritual capacity is great enough to be touched by and commune with God. But not infinite. Not God. Fighting that fact (says the Wise Man) is the sin.
Last week I realized I was expecting myself to be something other than human.
Physically, I had slogged for weeks getting ready for a garage sale, a shipment, a still undiscovered renter, and the flight out.
Mentally I was taxed to the max dealing with government bureaucracies, creating a new business, beginning a book, starting my son in a new kind of school, organizing our departure and our home, pushing past my natural and learned abilities in managing details only because of the fear of consequences should I drop any of the bazillions of tiny balls.
Emotionally shut down, already overloaded with the griefs, fears and fatigue of transition. My heart almost bursting with the barrage of what another Wise Man met in more recent years calls “love deposits” – the kindnesses of friends which only make it more clear what we are losing by leaving.
My soul merely going along for the ride now, unable to discern if I’m really in tune with God in these days or not. Feeling that though God is present, our interactions are more like that of business partners than lovers.
Last Wed. I realized I was expecting myself to be something other than finite when I found myself debating whether to jump off the cliff into the abyss of despair or just feign sickness so I could lay in bed, hoping others would take over. Thankfully, the Wise Man’s words came back to me. With that confession, not of sin, but of the truth that “I can’t do all of this”, came the realization that there must be an alternative. So I made a phone call. The Wise Woman on the other end of the line said, “Don’t worry. I’m here to help you.” She had an excellent sanity-saving solution that pulled me back from the cliff and gave me room to breath.
I’m learning a lot through this current experience of moving from here to there. 1 of them is an old lesson taught to me long ago by a Wise Man. I have limits. I can’t do this alone. And that’s not sin.
Here’s to the many good people in our lives who are eager and able to help us. You are speaking volumes to me in these days about the meaning of friendship, the value of community, and the goodness of being finite. I need you. And that, it turns out, is a really good thing.
Do you have a Bible? Read the first chapter: Genesis 1.
List all of the things in that chapter that have limits.
What’s God’s assessment of those things?
What good do you experience every day because of those finite things?
Thank God for them. And for finiteness, without which we couldn’t experience the sensations of the physical world, the goodness of relationship, or God made flesh in the person of Jesus.