I have noticed it in myself and I have noticed it in others.
It tends to sneak in at those moments when I am over busy. When I try to keep all the plates spinning at once. When I am under pressure and feeling unappreciated. Something just seems to snap inside.
The mouth opens and out comes words that wound and hurt others and makes the situation worse rather than better. You see, once I have snapped, I feel guilty for having done it and more than a little foolish.
I have been reading a fantastic book recently called, Strengthening the soul of your leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. In it, she advocates learning to live within your limits. She also points out that one of the effects of living beyond our limits is irritability.
I wonder if Moses was getting irritable when his father in law, Jethro, came to him and said;
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.
You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.
(Exodus 18 vs. 17 – 18)
I have been enormously grateful for those who have acted like Jethro in my own life. I can be a driven person and take on more and more. It is a humbling moment for any of us when we realise we cannot do it all. We all have our limits. I suspect, many of us are living beyond our physical, spiritual and emotional limits.
Jethro certainly doesn’t hold back and he points out that only is this not good for Moses but, it also not good for the people he is leading.
As well as encouraging us to recognize out limits, Ruth Haley Barton also encourages us to build a margin into our lives. I think there is good scriptural precedent for this;
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.
(Leviticus 23 vs. 22)
Yes, this verse is about provision for the poor but, I think there is good life advice here. Leave space, leave a margin, leave room in your life.
I am seeking to build some margin in my life, do you need to build some in yours?