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This year has been one of slowing down for me and, subsequently, for our family. In the post-COVID (and also post-nervous breakdown) days of late 2021 onward, our schedules had gotten fuller, and as the kids got older and capacities expanded, our family margins widened and filled. But this pregnancy, though easier than my last one, has forced us to ease up on the gas pedal. Extracurriculars have been kept to a minimum, playdates have been minimal, and our ministry efforts have mostly gone on hiatus. Instead of packing this summer with camps and excursions, we are staying closer to home, a trend I am certain will continue in the months after baby arrives.

These several months have been a time of recognizing my own limitations, something that has brought frustration and plenty of guilt. But I know this is a season, and one that can be beautiful if I allow it to be what it is and not what I think it should be. Helping me in this path towards acceptance is Sara Hagerty’s latest book, The Gift of Limitations: Finding Beauty in Your Boundaries.

Sara Hagerty is no stranger to limitations. In the early years of her marriage she knew the pain of a limited womb: she ached for motherhood and for the ministry opportunities she believed would open for her once she’d joined her peers in their stage of birthing and raising children. Her eventual path to motherhood was not a conventional one, but since becoming a mother of seven (four through adoption and three through later-in-life pregnancies) she now faces different limitations that accompany a house full of children with extensive needs.

I deeply relate to Hagerty’s story of feeling limited first by a lack of children and now by an abundance of them. This may not be your story, but regardless of family size we ALL experience unwanted limitations in our lives—from too many obligations or health complications or anxious thoughts, to too little money or too few relationships or opportunities. Some of our limits may be obvious to us while others are, as Hagerty describes them, “invisible but unyielding fences in our lives until we are forced to notice them.” Visible or unnoticed, our limits can be stumbling blocks that evoke frustration and prompt stagnation and resentment. But what if we were to see these limits as gifts? Could it be that they serve a divine purpose? With this book, Sara Hagerty helps us name our limits, identify the ache beneath them, and begin to see them as “a deposit, directing our eyes to the now and to the far better things ahead.”

Hagerty writes, “the life of slow growth and incremental movement is despised by our culture and then by us. Naturally, then, so are our limits. But God not only endcapped our lives, determining the exact number of days, minutes, seconds that our lungs will breathe, but He gave us parameters within them. Our culture’s narrative that we can get places faster, ameliorate our trials, and multitask toward better productivity opposes the life and daily assignments God gives that can’t be optimized.” The slowing down that accompanies recognizing and leaning into our limits is one gift that our limitations may offer. As we stop trying to push through our boundaries, we see that God often prevents us from finding our own paths so that He can guide us along a path only He knows. We resist and resent our limits, forgetting that they are God’s flashing invitation to welcome Him into our hurt and our pain.

This process is not easy, and The Gift of Limitations is a gentle guide for the journey. After helping us recognize our limits, Hagerty shows us what it looks like to surrender to them—dying to our own stories so that we can receive His. Hagerty graciously welcomes us into the intimacies of her own limited life so that we get a taste of what it can look like to live (abundantly!) within our limits, and she paints a beautiful portrait of the benefits that come from stepping into God’s limitlessness. Her story is one of shedding idealism and replacing it with hope, of substituting bitterness for God’s peace, of outgrowing independence and into full dependence on the Lord.

The writing in this book (as with all of Hagerty’s books) is honest and vulnerable, with lyrical, visceral storytelling that reads like a poem. Her musings can be repetitive and her confessions somewhat opaque (making this a 4.5- rather than 5-star read for me), but the message of her book is insightful and poignant and could not have come at a better time for me. I admire Hagerty’s passion for the Lord and was inspired by her ability to find Him in every broken nook and cranny of her story. This book, like my own limitations, was an invitation to slowness and to an awakening of presence within my personal story.

I came away from The Gift of Limitations with an altered perspective of life’s roadblocks and a sense of empowerment to face my own pain and disappointment. It is an inspiring and transformational book, birthed from Hagerty’s own limitations so that her readers may find beauty and freedom within ours. If you are feeling unsettled and seeking solidarity and Biblical guidance, this book may be the balm your soul craves.

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars (Rounded up to 5 Stars, and still one of my favorite nonfiction books of the year.) // Book Format: Kindle

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