Do you ever feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Does it sometimes seem that despite how hard you work, how often you “put yourself out there,” or how much you love, it just isn’t enough? Are you ever on the brink of hopelessness, imagining that if you take one step the wrong way, you might “walk off the edge?”
I’ve felt that way, and often, I’ve heard expressions that haven’t helped at all! They’ve been said, I believe, with the best of intentions but often seemed to make things worse instead of better. Do you know what I mean? What do you hear when you share fears about the impact of COVID-19? What are your challenges? Remember that, during times like this, it’s understandable (and very human) to be anxious or frightened.
One statement that I’ve struggled with is, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I’ve heard that so often that I assumed it had some religious, even biblical, backing. It turns out that it’s a spiritual “urban legend.” Those exact words aren’t even in The Bible! The closest writing comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No testing or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.” ❶
From my research, it seems that Paul, the author of Corinthians, is saying that God won’t let us be tempted beyond our ability to get out of a situation that’s contrary to our personal moral code. It’s not about being unable to handle what God “gives us.” Whew, that takes some pressure off, doesn’t it? When you’re struggling, and someone throws a “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” at you, it’s easy to think, “wow, I’m just not doing a good enough job! I believe there are plenty of times when, in our humanness, we do have more than we can handle.
When well-meaning friends have said, “you’re such a strong person,” or “you’ve been through so much, you can get handle anything,” I’ve often thought is something like, “I’m not that strong, I’m just trying not to fall apart” or “I’m too concerned about someone else to not get through this.” When you’re told how “strong” you are, but you don’t see yourself that way—or are simply tired of being a pillar of strength—it often hurts more than it helps. It’s okay not to always be the strong one.
There’s also, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Hmmm….I think many things may not kill us physically, but they don’t necessarily make us stronger either! If you’re coming home to a person who’s emotionally or physically abusive, live with significant health issues, or are marginalized in your workplace, being in those situations may, ultimately, make you stronger. But, they could result in you only feeling more beaten-down. In these tough situations, I think, “the grass could seem greener” almost anywhere else.
As we evolve and lean into our faith in God, we learn how to be resilient, creating opportunities for us to reach out to others who, too, walk through challenges. There are, of course, no perfect lives. We can learn, grow, and discover who we really are from our experiences, but whether we come out stronger depends on a lot of things!
May today be filled with moments that allow you to see the value you have on our planet, because, you do!
❶(The Message, Peterson)
Thank you, Jo, for confirming my understanding of the passage!
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