I woke up a couple of weeks ago feeling pretty lousy, and learned the next day I had covid. It has knocked me on my vaccinated tail, and 2 weeks out, I’m still finding my way back to the land of living. Watching enthusiastic and energetic football fans on my TV screen these past couple of weeks reminds me how, when we’re healthy, we live our life on our terms. We want to do something, we do it. We want to go somewhere, we go. But when I found it hard to do much beyond crawl out of bed, I realized how much I take for granted. Lacing up my shoes and heading out feels so normal … until it isn’t.
I like being in charge. I like going where I choose when I choose to go — doing things on my terms. But then I couldn’t — and even when the worst of covid was over for me, I still found it hard to summon up the energy for simple tasks. I wouldn’t wish covid on anyone.
But, since I’ve just been through 2 weeks where a sloth could have run circles around me, it would seem a waste of that time if all I did was catch up on some Star Wars movies. And besides the reminder that I don’t want to spend my life staring at a screen, perhaps the most abiding legacy of covid will be its lesson that I am limited. I can’t do everything, certainly when I’m sick. But I shouldn’t do everything, even when I’m healthy. It probably shouldn’t take my system getting overloaded with covid-19 to learn this lesson, but it certainly is a humbling reminder of this truth.
The key to life isn’t overcoming our limitations, but learning to see them and live within them. This isn’t an excuse for laziness or a call to live life halfway; instead, it’s the recognition that we are not as strong as we’d like to be, and understanding our limitations is a step in the direction of self-understanding.
Writer Zack Eswine says that one of our biggest temptations is to do more — to do them famously, faster, and farther. Or, as he says: do large things in famous ways as fast as we can. This, he says, is a consumerist approach. And once you do something large, famous and fast — well, then, the next time you have to then do it larger, famouser and faster.
But when we look back to the Garden, Eswine says, we see how God originally designed life — where he gives the first man & woman a place, a relationship, a role, and a connection with God.
But, as you know, it wasn’t enough; they reached for more. And our calling, Eswine says, is the same as that original opportunity: to be in a peaceable relationship with God with a people to love, a place to be, and a thing to do. But, like the original couple, we face the temptation to reach for more than what we’re given.
As Eswine puts it: We have the feeling we have to know everything, be everywhere, and fix everything. These are, in theological terms: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence — and they take us right back to the Garden, where once again we are trying to be God.
So, weeks of covid and its after-effects has reminded me those temptations still have a hold on me — and perhaps always will. But recognizing them, I can take steps to break their hold, where I accept limitations. Receive the gift of my current situation. Strive to love those God places in front of me. Be grateful for where I am and what I get to do.
It’s a constant struggle. I don’t know that I’m much better at it than I was 2 weeks ago. But at least two weeks thrown on my tail has reminded me of this truth: I am not God, but I am Jeff — and living faithfully as the latter, rather than the former, is plenty enough challenge for me.