Sunday, November 7, 2010
"God Doesn't Give Us More Than We Can Handle" and Other Bible Verses That Don't Exist
I am a worrier. I worry about my weight. I worry that no one understands me. I worry that no one likes me. I worry about money. I worry about being a bad stepmother. I worry about being a bad biological mother. I worry about ending up alone. I worry what people would think if they really knew me. I worry about going to heaven. I worry about going to hell. And everything in between....
Lately it's been too much. Stabbing abdominal pain. Headaches. Bald spots where hair used to be. Being too tired to play with my baby girl. Much too much. My little family has had a rough year. My husband made some mistakes, which we are dealing with. I don't say that to embarrass him, because he is trying really hard. But no matter how much forgiveness or grace I muster, it doesn't change the very real consequences of has happened and the very long period of time it will take to recover.
So there's a little phrase people keep saying to me. "God never gives us more than we can handle." Not always those exact words, but that sentiment.
I would love to meet the person who heard that and honestly felt better.
While I am appreciative of people's sympathy and prayers during difficult times, I do always smile to myself when I hear that phrase. Most people don't realize that it doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible. The verse that people are most likely thinking of is 1 Cor 10:13, where it says that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.
That is not the same thing. Not by a long shot.
People are given more than they can handle all the time.
So, what's the good news?
The good news is that we shouldn't want that phrase to be true. It implies that God gives us bad things. That God allocates hardship at random as long as it doesn't breech some mystical line of what we as humans have the strength of dealing with before.... what? We kill ourselves? We drop dead? We implode?
Nope. Our God is madly in love with us. All good things come from Him. But He wanted us to love Him back of our own free will. So that's what He gave us. Free will.
Guess where all that stuff we can't handle comes from?
You got it. We do it. We don't have to. That is what that misquoted verse tells us. We didn't have to make the choices we made that hurt us and people around us. But we do.
And then we find ourselves with more than we can handle.
Ironically, the anecdote to not having more than we can handle is accepting that "God doesn't give us more than we handle" is a lie. A well meaning lie. But still a lie. What we have to learn to believe is that WE give OURSELVES more than we can handle all the time.
So we have to let go. We have to surrender. We have to lay down our pride and our faux strength and our control and accept that we are helpless but not hopeless. That we CAN depend on someone else to help us unravel the messes we and those in our lives create for us. That God may allow us to take on more than we can handle, but He also has an escape plan. Bigger, better tools. Limitless strength.
So back to my bald spots.
What if you can't let go? What if you have built a gigantic concrete wall around yourself to keep "it" from happening again? What if in the process of trying to protect your pile of "more than you can handle" from the sight of other people, you have alienated any real support system you once had? What if the only people you find to go out for a beer are not people who know you well enough to let you cry? Or listen to your whining?
So that is where I am. Muddling through with the occasional beer and a sense of humor. Looking for the answers to those questions.