More than I can handle? Oh, I think so!

This one has been coming for a while now.  You’ve been warned….

We’ve all had a share of trouble or crisis in our lives.  Some of us more than our fair share it seems.  In the same way that we automatically greet others out of habit with, “Hi! How are you?” and answer by rote, “Good! And you?”  because no one really cares or wants to hear it most of the time – it’s just one of those things we’re socially trained like monkeys to say …. We also have this gross tendency to tell people going through crisis, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

How dismissive!  And what bullshit!  It’s simply not theologically sound.  It appears to be a fluff-weight bastardization of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

WHICH SAYS NOTHING OF THE SORT!!!  Temptation is not crisis.  Falling to temptation can oft create a crisis, but it is not equal to a crisis in and of itself.  Finding a way out of temptation is relatively easy compared to finding your way out of a life crisis that you never expected and that is not the result or consequence of any choice or action you took.  Life is just not that simple, and neither is God in my opinion.  I really do think that the phrase, “Shit happens.” has much more biblical validity than “God will never give you more than you can handle” does.  Never minding the emotional abuse that that phrase heaps on the already hurting persons head, by making the veiled assertion that if they are still in the situation, it’s somehow their own fault for not pulling themselves out of it, or commonly with old school religious types, asserting that the person wouldn’t be in crisis if they hadn’t somehow sinned and brought it on their own heads.  How cruel we can be to others who are hurting.

I’ve been through many things that I could. not. handle.  I am going through things right now that I can. not. handle.  Some of those circumstances are going on 20 years, and while I don’t wallow in them on a daily basis, they are very much there and very much inescapable and wrenching to the soul.  I know some of you have burdens that you bear or have borne that are or were just too much.  Life is like that sometimes.

The way I see it, if God only gives or allows things that He already knows we can handle…. then there is absolutely no point to any of our suffering, and He’s just a giant, cruel puppet-master in the sky.  I don’t think that’s who He is at all though.  I think “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is an affront to His character, to His sacrifice and love, and to who He is as a whole.  I dare say it’s a heresy.

What I do believe is that (a) Life is full of stuff that happens just because life is not easy. Period.  Sometimes there’s no need or validity in attributing some big cosmic assignation to it; it just is what it is.  And (b) when God allows or sometimes brings crisis into our lives, it’s not to toy with us as marionettes on a string, but to teach us where to turn to find our strength.    In the trials of my life, many have brought me closer to God. Many have brought me greater understanding.  I’ve learned many a lesson.  And sometimes…. I’ve just been broken.  Sometimes, I’ve been all of the above. Whoever told you that life was fair or that there wouldn’t be inexplicable and undeserved rough patches, or even brutally rough patches was a damned liar.   I’ll say it again: Life is like that sometimes.

When this first popped into my head, I was in the depths of despair and at that moment, not at all handling something that I was in the middle of.  It goes so against everything I was ever taught.  At first I thought I must be over-thinking and getting crazy about it in my trial, but this was a good 5 months ago or so, and my conviction on the matter just grows on a daily basis.    Thinking that maybe it was just me and that I was possibly way off, I googled up a bit and found that others were thinking the same thing.  I found an article written on a blog entitled “Modern Reject” (love that name) that I thought did a great job of verbalizing what I was feeling.  I hope you’ll take a moment to read it.  She and I aren’t exactly lined up on the subject, but we do seem to have a lot of overlap, and it’s a good read.

So, there.  That’s off my chest.  What do you think?  Have you thought similarly?  Have you ever felt judged or weak or not good enough when you tried to share what you were going through that you could. not. handle. and someone pulled this trite phrasing out of their pocket to use on you?

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