It is said that if you take a fish out of its bowl and put it in a bathtub it will continue to swim in a small circle as though it is still in the small bowl....
Alan Cohen says we limit ourselves when we make "gods of popular opinions, beliefs, and actions." He says by doing this we draw our own boundaries and ".... have made your own hell and resigned yourself to it.....It is we who cripple ourselves with small thinking, ideas of limitation and fear" because, if you're like me, you do feel like you're suffering (hell) when you feel there's more to life than you're experiencing.
I can see where limiting myself would cripple me. It's like wearing shoes a size too small and trying to walk about. So I had to ask myself, "How have I limited myself?"
Immediately I thought of a friend who adopted a dog that had only known life in a puppy mill crate. The poor thing would only walk in circles! She had to be taught how to walk more than a few steps in a straight line. Even after this training she still reverts back to walking in circles at times.
This is when the answer came to my question. The circle I keep going round and round in are my unrealistic expectations and consequential disappointments. I wondered aloud to God why is it I have such grandiose expectations that fuel my let-downs. It's one thing to aim high and quite another if what you're aiming for is not attainable. His answer? It came to me when Cohen said there was a cartoon "about a fairyland that was oppressed by a dark tyrant called the 'Shadow'." In the end a little boy, "armed with nothing but one single candle....entered the Shadow's chamber and lit the candle. That was the end of the Shadow, for, you see, the moment the light shined, it revealed that the Shadow had no substance."
God was saying to me that my disappointments, whether in myself or in others, have needed to be large in order to show me just how BIG my God is. Some people put limits on their lives because they limit in their minds what God is willing and capable of doing and therefore never take up the mantle He is offering to them. He wanted me to see just how limitless He is by showing me His light is sufficient to dispel even MY huge "Shadow" created by my expectations. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9 declares, "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'" I, like Paul, am weak. Whatever is fueling my unrealistic expectations is a weakness that God uses to remind me that His grace is sufficient....that it is He alone I should lean on--not myself, not others.
Father, my self-imposed "cage of expectations" certainly limits how You can use me for your Kingdom. Help me to quit going in small circles and instead walk the straight path you have prepared for me so that I might see all that You have for me--not what I think I need.
Link to scripture: Proverbs 3:6