I haven’t written a blog in a while. I have had the inkling to do so a time or two, but my desire for authenticity conflicted with my feelings of not having something positive and uplifting to say. The world is full of Debbie downers (as I take my OWN name in vain!) so why would I want to contribute to those voices?? But in the past week, my thoughts have been brewing over our thresholds and our limitations as human beings. And I finally decided I needed to put them out there to share with others.
I have been reflecting about my own emotional, physical, and spiritual thresholds. What are my limits? Why do I feel like I hit the top of my threshold faster or easier than in the past? Can I blame COVID? After all it is the reason for ALL that has been bad since March of 2020.
First, what does threshold even mean? According to Merriam Webster dictionary, one of its definitions is:
That definition is perplexing. I would propose that the physiological or psychological effects are produced as you approach your threshold, not merely when you arrive at that point. For instance, if I have a high pain threshold, then I will experience physiological pain as I’m approaching my threshold but will only wave a white flag when I’ve hit my invisible limit or top threshold of pain. The pain doesn’t begin then, it begins prior to the threshold being reached.
Hmm, maybe I’ve had a misunderstanding of thresholds all along! Additionally, there is the definition of threshold that pertains to the wood plank one crosses at a doorway that is on the floor. This is the threshold that gains romantic imagery as a groom carries his bride across it. In fact, this custom came from the belief that evil spirits hovered at the doorway of a newlywed couples’ home and a groom could protect his bride from them by carrying her over them, instead of she herself stepping upon such bad juju.
So, we have thresholds we don’t want to arrive at, and ones we want to step over. All of this leads me back to my contemplation…. what is going on with my emotional, physical, and spiritual thresholds? How can I find peace with them? I do feel like I must bring COVID up into this discussion, as I think it has altered our thresholds. Prior to COVID, I believe I could mentally/emotionally handle things pretty well without reaching a breaking point. I might cry, but that did not mean I wasn’t able to handle something. I think when COVID came, we all were stretched to cope with things beyond our comprehension and beyond our ability to intellectually recognize when they might end. We buckled down for battle and prepared for the worst. Then a year went by, and we had vaccines, lessened mask restrictions, and the end of the tunnel looked like it might be in sight. We could breathe a bit easier. But then the next strain, the next natural disaster, the next political conflict, the next and next and next….and we are still in some kind of battlefield.
For me, as a woman of faith, I try to look to Mother Mary. After all, she knew when she would bear her son that he would be the Son of God and would suffer and die. She knew her heart would be pierced. How did she enjoy each day without living in fear of the future? Fear of his persecution? Fear of a broken heart bigger than she could ever prepare herself to live through? Fear of an anger and mistrust in the world that would crucify her son? She had some intense level of faith that I can only pray to grow closer to having.
I recognize that my thresholds have been pummeled down a bit. Since March of 2020, besides COVID, I have had two parents diagnosed with cancer who are both going through chemo. I have had a miscarriage. I have had my oldest son move three hours away without a set job or admission into a school program he deeply desires. There is spiritual & emotional triage at my work. These invisible blows on my emotional threshold probably have reduced its height and strength.
So why do I think I have to be superhero in my thresholds? If authenticity is something I truly value, why not admit that I can’t handle what I used to? That doesn’t mean I won’t one day again. But if I believe what I profess, then I must acknowledge that even the Saints had days where they just weren’t the best versions of themselves. St Paul himself eloquently says to the people of Corinth that his strength is made perfect in his weakness. In fact, he begged God for his thorn to be removed and God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
In my lessened thresholds, I have come to a greater realization of the importance of “self-care”. I jokingly told a friend recently that my self-care was wine and chocolate. That isn’t completely untrue. But I have grown to truly appreciate the value of carefree timelessness with good people. A cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend with intentional conversation for an hour can boost my ability to handle life ten-fold. It is as if they directly pour into my threshold limits. Going with my son to a musical is also self-care. Sitting outside WITHOUT my phone, looking at the stars, or the sunset, or the sunrise…. those are important refuels for me. Holding a baby, listening to 80’s music, watching “This is Us” – all self-care.
If your thresholds feel low, pour into them with self-care. It may sound cliché or pop culture-esque, but it is how we will get through. God is the gentleman who wants to carry us across our thresholds, but He first wants us to sit in the limits of them and recognize our need for Him, and for all He is surrounding us with if we just pay attention. Jot down a list of healthy self-care things and add them to your calendar. Make time in your week for Him, and for yourself. Self-care is not SELFISH! It is what God desires of us to be able to reboot and then be able to better follow His will in our lives. One day my thresholds may increase. But whether they do or do not, I can still find peace with my limits and the grace that comes with them.