Last week Jack got potty-trained. Michael and I have been putting off the inevitable, not because we love changing diapers, but because we couldn’t imagine how we would potty train a boy, and we knew that having a kid out of diapers would mean more planning on our parts when we went out grocery shopping, to the park, or on car trips. We knew that Jack understood the basics, and that he was physically capable. The only barrier to him being potty trained was mom and dad’s imaginative barrier—Michael and I couldn’t get Jack potty trained because we couldn’t imagine Jack being potty trained.
So last Friday, we got up in the morning and said, “Jack, guess what happened last night? You got POTTY TRAINED!” Jack screamed, “NOOOO!,” cried for an hour, and then went and got a pair of underpants and put them on. Job done. (Proud parents beaming)
It gets me wondering how many other things in our lives—in our families, in our work, in our congregation—we are unable to do because we just can’t imagine it being done.
No European crossed the equator until the 15th century when intrepid explorers finally did, simply because no one could imagine it ever happening. Similarly, it was many years before anyone ran a four-minute mile, and when that imaginative barrier was broken, several men broke that record within a short time.
What things have we told ourselves can’t be done? What limits have we placed on ourselves not because we lack skill or energy, but because we lack imagination? What calls to ministry and discipleship are we not answering because we can’t imagine doing the things God calls us to do?