Learning to Revel in your Limitations
By: Robert D. Foster
Of all the phobias we face – fears that leave us trembling – for many of us none is greater than the fear of growing old. Several months ago I reached the age of 91! While some people might consider that “old,” I regard it only as the latest stage in the great adventure that has been my life.
Think about it: The fourth quarter of a basketball game is the most exciting; why should that not be true in life as well?
I have been told there are three phases in life – youth, middle age, and “My, you’re looking great!” But many people fail to get to that third phase, at least not in a meaningful, productive manner. One of my friends, for example, saw his life come to an end on his 50th birthday. By today’s standards, he was comparatively young.
Another friend checked out of productive living at 65, turning his back on the commendable life and reputation he had built over more than six decades. He was at the height of “Silver Threads Among The Gold” (a song recorded numerous times during the 20th century about the joy of aging gracefully and proudly). In spite of the legacy he was still in the midst of building, he quit! Too old, too tired, he said.
Becoming older need not be viewed as a handicap, a personal liability. “To be 70 years young,” wrote the esteemed jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, “is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.”
Of course, aging is just one of countless circumstances that can be perceived as either disability or opportunity. Here are examples of people who overcame limitations to accomplish great things in their lives, individuals that refused to lean on the crutch of their so-called “handicap”:
· Author Robert Louis Stevenson was an invalid most of his life.
· Poet Lord Byron had a clubfoot.
· Roman statesman Julius Caesar suffered from epilepsy.
· Composer Ludwig von Beethoven was deaf.
· French political and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte was extremely short in stature.
· Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis.
· American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a victim of polio.
· Author, political activist and lecturer Helen Keller was blind and deaf from childhood.
In the Bible’s New Testament, the Apostle Paul summed up in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 his view of the right attitude toward weakness and limitations: “I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Three times I asked God to remove it and HE told me: ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need, MY strength comes into its very own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad he let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer.”
We would all be wise to live by that attitude: Never use your limitations as an excuse for failure.
Until next week!
Taken and adapted from The Challenge, written and published by Robert D. and Rick Foster. Permission to reproduce with proper credit is freely given and encouraged. For questions or comments, write: 29555 Goose Creek Rd, Sedalia, CO 80135, U.S.A., or fax (303) 647-2315.
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