How many times have we heard in our darkest moments someone say, “just remember, God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Umm…I think we passed “more than I can handle” five pneumonias, a cancer diagnosis, and broken hip ago.
This statement, although meant from a place of love, can be painful to someone barely treading water against life’s currents. With your head just above water, and another wave on it’s way, along comes someone in a boat but instead of throwing out a life preserver they say, “there’s another big wave on it’s way, but I’m sure it won’t drown you!” as they sail away.
That is exactly how I feel, when my daughter is in the midst of her yearly severe bout of pneumonia. Each one consumes her weak body to the brink of life and death, and I face the terror of the moment I’m in being my final one with her. Then, I’m told that God will not give me more than I can handle.
This is 100% more than I can handle! In that moment, I don’t need to be told that God wouldn’t send this trial my way if I couldn’t handle it. That’s a reminder that although, I’m swallowed up in anxiety and exhausted beyond measure, according to God’s checklist this is totally doable.
I know what you’re thinking, “dang woman, I’m just trying to offer perspective!” Don’t worry this isn’t a better than thou kind of story — I know I’ve said something similar on more than one occasion. I can say with complete sincerity that I know anyone who has offered these words to me has done so in complete love and well-meaning. It’s not offensive just painful. The message here is one of introspection not judgment.
So what the heck do you say to someone in the middle of a life trauma to buoy their spirits? It’s actually quite simple even if it seems small. You say,
“I’m sorry this is happening to you.”
“It’s not fair.”
“I’m here if you need someone to talk to.”
“I love you my friend.”
“What can I do help you?”
“Can I bring you a Diet Pepsi?” (okay that one’s just for me)
There’s a million other things that work. Offering love and empathy is what we all need in the midst of life’s challenges. No matter how big or small they may be.
We don’t need to hear about our blessings, about God’s plan, about how we were born to handle these trials, or about how much worse it could be. However, we’re all human and none of us, says the right thing all the time. The fact that you’re saying something means that while I’m drowning in life’s latest struggle you’re there, even if you’re not sure what to do or say. Being there matters.
The truth is we all will get MUCH more than we can handle whether we believe the struggles are from God or just part of life. My daughter’s life is more than she can handle. A teenager on the brink of choosing suicide or enduring life has much more than he can handle. A father who has lost his wife and children has so much more than he can handle. A mom trying to raise her kids without losing her sh@! has more than she can handle.
My cup may not overfloweth, but it is at least 2/3 full of spirituality on a good day, so I do have a relationship with my God. I know that He sees my challenges, and I don’t imagine Him thinking, “oh she can handle more so I think I’ll send…” My relationship with Deity is such that when I’m treading water against another tsunami headed my way His response is, “I’m sorry this is happening again. I can’t still the waters for you, but I can throw you this rope to hang on to, and I promise I won’t let go.”
Be like God.