rebelling against low expectations

Do Hard Things: Accepting Your Limitations


Today we have an article from Madison Hexter, a homeschool grad attending the University of Akron, where she is pursuing a major in biology and minors in chemistry and dance.

Madison shows how accepting our limitations can set us free to accomplish even more. She writes, “Accepting your limitations is not giving up. On the contrary; it is saying, ‘Here is what I cannot currently do, but this is something I will work at to learn, and God’s grace will sustain me.'”

Accepting Your Limitations

Six other students in my dorm and I were doing math homework together the other night. Two of them are in Differential Equations (after Calculus III), two in Calculus III, two in Calculus II, and then me – all by my lonesome in Calculus I.

And I started to feel bad about myself and my abilities. Because I did not have a clue what they were talking about – methods of integration, finding derivatives, or classical physics (physics and calculus).

I was still feeling bad about myself when I walked downstairs to my dorm room and started getting ready for bed. But as I was falling asleep, I realized something. (Eureka!) I have limitations! Yes, it is true that I am “behind” in math compared to my friends who are in higher levels of calculus. They understand things I do not understand.

But I had a choice to make. I could grovel, complain, and pout about my frustrations at what I cannot do and do not understand.

Or I could rejoice, be thankful, and even glory in what I can do and do understand. I do understand biology, I can bake the perfect cheesecake, and I do know what commotio cordis is (a traumatic cause of cardiac arrest).

My friends can find derivatives, they can use l’Hôpital’s Rule, and they can do physics. But that does not make me better than them or them better than me. Paul writes in Romans 12:

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts…”

The “hard thing” that I have learned is you have to accept your limitations. After all, we are human. We are not all-knowing or all-powerful.

Accepting your limitations is not giving up. On the contrary; it is saying, “Here is what I cannot currently do, but this is something I will work at to learn, and God’s grace will sustain me.”

Accepting your limitations lets you stop comparing yourself with others, and start focusing on the gifts that God has given you.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14

Accepting your limitations gives you an opportunity for teamwork, with each person doing what they are good at.

Accepting your limitations is letting God be God. And that, my friends, is far, far better than any method of integration, derivative or biology lesson. “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).

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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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  • Thanks for posting that. i really needed this verse “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts…” to remind me that every one in the body of Christ is important.

  • Thank you for this reminder to accept our limitations. At 16, I sometimes find it discouraging that I’m only a sophomore in high school. Seeing other home-schooling friends that are younger than me being juniors, I many times get frustrated that I’m a year behind. I excel higher than most others in all my courses but I’m placed at a younger grade than I think I should be. Soon enough I’ll be watching all my friends graduate from high school while I’m still here finishing up.

    Although I may get frustrated sometimes, this post reminds me that God gives us limitations for a reason, and that He has a plan for me even in an extra year of high school. If I allow this unchangeable situation to discourage me, how much easier will it be to get discouraged in persecution, in hurt, and in times when I don’t understand God’s plan? When I think about David, Samson, Joseph, etc., I find that God can use us most when we accept our limitations and rely on Him. Thanks for this awesome reminder!

  • Great post Madison. This is something I really need to work on. I can start by accepting the fact that I can’t even pronounce “l’Hôpital’s Rule”, much less use it! 🙂

  • This is amazing! It came just at the right time, i have a lot of trouble with this and i need to start working on it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great post. These kinds of messages are the kind everyone should remember. As Christians, we should do hard things, but except our limitations. Use the spiritual gifts God gave us as tolls in doing hard things, but do not push yourself to do what you were not born to do.

  • Thanks Madison! Great post! I struggle with comparing myself with others especially in school related areas. It’s good to remember that each person has different gifts and that its ok if I’m not good at everything.

  • This came at exactly the right moment. I was actually comparing myself to my friends and feeling bad as I was typing in Thank you so much!

  • Wow. Thank you for posting this!
    I’m working on graduating via GED at the moment and have often gotten down about my limitations. I have younger friends who are graduating and already know Trig and are in dual enrollment with local community colleges.
    I have never understood math, so, when I was younger, I just didn’t do it. Our family homeschools in such a relaxed way that I never noticed how much I didn’t know. This year I started from multiplication and have now finished algebra. Hopefully in the next few months I can take and pass the GED. On the other hand, I have always loved science, English, geography and pretty much everything else. I’m not very good at spelling, but I write on a blog for Kansas City Parent magazine (You may have heard of other “Parent” magazines, many big cities have them). I couldn’t read well until I was 9, but soon after I learned how I was reading highschool and college level.
    We all have things we are good at. I have friends who are great at math, I prefer creative writing and arts. I don’t understand how she does it, she doesn’t understand how I do it. So we both just do it.

  • So good. Thanks for the reminder Madison! I have weaknesses in my life, but I have to remind myself that I am good at other things, and I can choose to face them, get rid of the pity party, and grow in both my weaknesses and strong points!

  • I can’t explain how weird it is. I feel so weak in every aspects but then, I thank God to those who encourage every believer to step up and do more beyond our weaknesses. Thanks for reminding, but by the Grace of God we can help ourselves to do more. So happy!

  • I couldn’t have said it better myself. Being perfectionist in personality, this was a hard lesson I’ve had to learn and still remind myself of. Thanks for this!

  • Thank you for that Madison. It’s actually something I’ve been struggling with lately–I have a friend who just seems to be good at everything, and I can’t help comparing myself to him. But I realize that I need to just be me: be good at what I’m good at and strive to be better where I would, but not be dissatisfied with who God made me to be.

  • I’m so glad that God helped you see your limitations in a different light, Madison! If He had not, then I might not have thought about mine differently either. There are so many things I wish I were good at, and God simply hasn’t given me talent in those areas. By His grace, I hope that I will remember that He knows what is best, and that I’m not a mistake in any way. 🙂

  • Thank you for posting that! I personally am one to compare myself to others, and not focus on the gifts God has given to me. That post helped remind me, that God made me special, and there is no one else who is just like me.


By Brett Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →