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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

10 Things I'll Be Thankful For When Thanksgiving Is Over


It's that time of year again, where we all pretend that Thanksgiving is just as awesome as Christmas or Hanukkah.  It's not.  Thanksgiving is only necessary, because without the annual binge before the REAL holidays our stomachs would lack the elasticity necessary to make it through Gluttony December until Shame January.  However, I do like the tradition of remembering what we are thankful for.  So here are 10 things I will be thankful for when Thanksgiving is over:

  1. Being able to listen to Christmas music without being shamed.  I LIKE CHRISTMAS CAROLS.  They combine the whimsy of childhood with the dignity of the French Horn.  So suck it.
  2. Not having to hear everyone and their brother exclaim, "I can't believe they already have the Christmas stuff out!  It's not even Thanksgiving yet!"  Every year, people?  Really?  Retailers put Christmas crap out early, because THEY had to do their Christmas shopping before you did, to meet supply and demand, and to extend the highest profiting purchasing season by a few weeks.  Why do they do it?  Because of us.  Just ride the wave.
  3. I can go back to pretending I don't know anyone who actually participates in Black Friday.  You're too weird to exist in my world.
  4. We can all remember that other meat exists besides turkey and honey baked ham.
  5. I can watch Albert Finney's A Christmas Carol musical without feeling like a creepy old gay man.  You just caaaaaaan't really pull that off until after the turkeys have all been slaughtered.
  6. The cacophony of competition on Twitter and Facebook amidst the Mommy Club will hopefully have subsided some.  "I'm making sweet potato souffle with sweet potatoes I grew in my organic garden."  "Oh, really?  Well I am doing an Asian inspired turkey we raised ourselves from a poult. The kids are putting on a Christmas production entirely in Chinese while the blood drains."
  7. The snowman plates I use year round because I'm too lazy to put them away and too cheap to buy real dishes will seem just slightly less white trash.
  8. The what-did-we-even-do-week at work will be over.  This workaholic does not approve of days off in the middle of the week.
  9. Ground cloves will go back on the completely overused once a year shelf on the spice rack.
  10. I can gently place my feelings about Native Americans back in their white guilt box.  They might have been thankful for new friends and great food during the first Thanksgiving feast, but I bet they would have been more thankful without the smallpox and the syph.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, but remember.  After tomorrow, I WILL be blaring "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" as loud and as long as I can until December the 26th.  Deal with it.

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.