Welcome to our continuing Easter series, “Grow Your Soul: 7 Ways to Experience New Life During Easter,” drawing from my book, 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness.” Our fifth tip is “Recognize and Set Limits.”
Setting limits as a way to grow your soul may sound counterintuitive at first blush. We don’t normally associate the word “limit” with the word “grow.” Think about it this way, however: isn’t it possible to kill a plant by over-watering it? Of course it is. I’ve done it more than once in my life! Over-watering makes the soil too compacted and limits the oxygen a plant needs. It can also cause the plant’s cells to burst and the roots to rot. So the old saying, “too much of a good thing,” is true.
We live in a society that does not like limits. We want everything to be bigger, faster, longer, or stronger. Restaurants advertise “all-you-can-eat” or “bottomless” or “endless” menu items (usually fries). Customers at fast-food restaurants are encouraged to “super-size” their orders. TV commercials often use the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!” While we all want to get the biggest “bang for our buck,” the truth is, we too-often consume to excess. And I’m not just talking here about eating food. When any activity—shopping, drinking, gambling, surfing the Internet, playing video games, watching reality TV, and even working—becomes excessive, it can numb or anesthetize us. We do these things to fill an empty space within ourselves, but the satisfaction is only temporary; before long, the craving comes again and, the more we try to satisfy it without true nourishment, the hungrier we become for more. We may end up “growing” but, rather than growing our soul, we may be growing our waistlines, our debts, our addictions, our anxieties, and so on.
Limits actually enable us to channel energy properly. Think of a fast-moving stream or river. It has banks that hold the water in and make it flow. If those banks were removed, the water would spill over and eventually become a standing body of water that grows stagnant. In a similar way, in order for grace to flow through us, we need to set limits. Without limits, the “soil” of our hearts grows compacted and prevents grace from flowing. Without limits, our roots rot. God wants us to enjoy all of his creation, which includes material goods. However, when we seek enjoyment without limits, we clog the “arteries” of our soul and prevent the flow of grace that enables our soul to grow.
Easter is a season of new life—a new life that is reflected in the natural world around us during spring. Let’s be careful not to “over-water” the new life that is sprouting within our souls by engaging in excess. By recognizing and setting limits on our behavior (practicing temperance), we enable a healthy flow of grace that will allow our soul to grow like a deeply rooted plant that reaches for the sky!