God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle.
I often think that phrase should come with a disclaimer like they do for prescription drugs. It would go a little something like this:
* This belief may cause undue stress, damage your faith, lead to feelings of isolation and inadequacy. Not to be used during prolonged periods of stress, while experiencing mental health challenges, or in toxic or abusive situations.
Most of us use this phrase. And you probably think of it as something comforting to say when you hear about another person’s struggles.
But if you’ve ever been in the midst of something you feel like you just can’t handle, hearing someone say “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” may have made you want to scream.
The problem with God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle?
Odds are, if someone is saying that to you, you already feel like you can’t really handle what’s going on. You’ve not been in this situation before, so you don’t really *know* what to do. The emotions and stress are all mixed up, too big, and feel like they are going to overtake you at any moment. Even though your logical brain knows that somehow you will get through this, you can’t actually see how it’s going to happen or whether you’ll truly be OK on the other end.
When someone says God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, it adds a whole new layer on top of all of that. Are you really strong enough (smart enough, brave enough, etc.) to do this? If God somehow knows you can handle it, then surely that must mean you can handle it alone. All. By. Yourself.
And that can leave you feeling even more overwhelmed instead of feeling better. It can cause you to question your faith (why would God do this to you?). It can stop you from reaching out for the help you need to be able to handle it…because somehow you’re supposed to have this. Because God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Right?
You Can Handle Anything…With A Little Help
The key to being able to handle life’s crisis is in surrounding yourself with support. That might feel a little uncomfortable – as human beings we’re not always very good at asking for help. But I promise it is the key.
The help you need might seem a little unusual. Often when dealing with crisis, there is the obvious help that’s needed – the help that is going to solve the problem. And then there’s the less obvious help that’s needed – the help that’s going to give you the space to solve the problem.
I, for one, can always tell how well I’m handling life’s stresses by the state of my home. Is it clean and relatively well organized? I’m good. When it starts to get less organized because I’m just dumping things in piles to deal with later. When the dust starts to pile up and there’s that weird ring around the toilet. That’s a surefire sign that I’m focusing a lot of energy on managing crisis and just don’t have any energy left to give to those details. The help I often need in those overwhelming times in life is that kind of help – cooking, cleaning and otherwise looking after my basic needs.
Not sure what kind of help you need? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Professional Experts: Who might be able to offer you advice about what to do in your situation? Do you need a legal opinion or medical opinion? Is there someone in a profession uniquely related to your situation who you can reach out to for their advice?
- Mental Health Support: A good therapist or coach to support you regularly as you navigate this phase of life can be an incredible asset.
- Your Family Doctor: Whenever you’re going through something stressful, your family doctor should know about it. They can make referrals for mental health support, work with you to see if you may benefit from medication, and may be able to offer and access support services you didn’t even know existed.
- Help At Home: There’s a reason we offer to bring a meal to someone who is ill or who has had a death in the family. Often cooking is far down the list of things to do. What help do you need at home to make this time easier for you?
- Your Circle of Support: Who are the people you regularly reach to? Do they know what’s going on? Do they know how they can help?
When you’ve got these kinds of support, stress lessens and you begin to see how you will successfully move through this thing in your life.
What To Do Instead?
So, what do you do when that phrase seems like it’s appropriate? In those moments when you feel like saying “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” try this instead (only if you mean it!).
That sounds really tough. It must be a lot to handle on your own. How can I help?
If you’re the person who is on the receiving end of it try this as a response:
You know, it is a lot to handle on my own. I could sure use a little help.
Let’s support each other in handling life’s crisis. Because handling it with the love and support of your people is a lot easier than doing it on your own.
Photo Credit: Werner Raaths | FreeImages.com