The gift of being limited

By Christine Hoover

On Monday, I stayed in my pajamas until 4 p.m. Although I woke up early and drank two back-to-back brimming cups of coffee, the fuzz of sleep didn’t burn away until late morning. By that point, showering and changing into clothes felt a bit too strenuous, so I didn’t force the issue with myself. Instead of choosing hygiene, I chose to stare off into space and give my brain a chance to think again after a whirlwind of activity the previous week.

Why is it that when my body is exhausted, my mind goes into overdrive? As I lay in bed, staring into space, taking a moment in my room to get my act together, my thoughts began berating me for being tired. I felt bad for needing to rest. I felt bad for not having the mental capacity to immediately move on to the “next thing” on my agenda.

I immediately did what I always attempt to do—force myself through the tiredness. This never works, though I try it every time. Instead of helping, forcing myself only makes me more tired and more grumpy.

So, I decided to do something else. Laying on my bed in my pajamas, I asked the Lord to remind me of what’s true.

The first thing He brought to my mind was His faithfulness. I was tired precisely because of His faithfulness—which sounds funny to say—but is true. He asked me to tick back through the days and think about what each had entailed, such as a meal with friends that God asked us to pursue for years, our church’s women’s retreat where dear women shared stories of how God has redeemed and healed them, our Sunday church gathering with so many beloved people built into a healthy community and a wedding of someone I love who has faithfully endured tremendous pain.

And that was only the weekend.

As I ticked back before that in my mind, I found instance upon instance of how I’d encountered and experienced God’s faithfulness. I was tired because I had been thrown around in a pinball machine of God’s goodness.

The second truth He brought to mind is that I was tired because I am tire-able; I am able to tire. I am limited by design. Of course, I don’t like being limited, and I am well aware that is super prideful. But I get mad at myself when I hit up against the borders of my humanity, and—no surprise here—I try to force myself through those limits to valiantly push on toward the “next thing.”

I was starting to see what God was trying to say to me in my tiredness.

God = limitless goodness and faithfulness

Me = limited in every way

God-ordained limits for me = God’s goodness and faithfulness to me

How was this I-can’t-get-out-of-my-pjs weariness God’s goodness for me? Well, He was offering me time and space not only to rest but to remember. Of course, limits help us in a myriad of ways but the main one is that if we didn’t have limits, we would never stop. If we don’t stop, we don’t take time to recall what God has done or have time to reflect on His goodness. Limits help us remember that our greatest gift is a God who is limitless.

My mind cleared in those truths, and my heart settled back in peace. I don’t have to force myself through limits, nor do I have to listen to the self-condemnation I’m so prone to berate myself with when I need rest. Instead, I can let my limits direct me toward dependence. And I can, in fact, receive a pajama day as a gracious gift from God.

Published November 3, 2016

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Christine Hoover

Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom to three energetic boys, and the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart. She enjoys encouraging ministry wives and helping women apply the gift of God’s grace to their daily lives. Christine’s work has been featured on Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today,, Flourish, and In(courage). She offers fresh doses of biblical truth and grace on her blog,