Monday Musings....God Doesn't Give You More Than You Can Handle…

Most of us have probably heard this expression whether you have any church background or not. Usually these words are uttered from well-meaning people who want you to feel better about the circumstances you are in. They might follow it up with: “Tomorrow will be a better day.” “Things will get better.” But for those who live with a chronic mental or physical illness, it’s often hard to believe that there is a limit to the pain and stress - that there is a shut off valve, controlled by God, who watches as the barometer rises and then says: “Ok that’s enough for that person. I’ll move on to the next.” Instead things just seem to keep happening, with little reprieve in between. Or just when you’ve caught your breath, another thing happens to discourage you or make you want to give up in exhaustion.

This week, I sat in a familiar place. The perioperative waiting room. I positioned myself strategically so I could watch the jumbo Tron that provides updates on a patient’s status, while remaining at a distance from the herds of humans who were huddled together sharing homemade sandwiches and juice boxes. A new non-fiction book in hand, I settled in for the wait.

There was a fairly steady entrance and exit of strangers. It was like watching the tide, ebb and flow, with an ever changing deposit of diversity on the delta. There was the young woman who came with her two friends and talked non-stop about the latest celebrity gossip as a means of distraction from the impending prognosis of her husband’s condition; then a family of a teenager boy who had previous surgeries as a toddler and who was wondering if he would be able to play soccer this summer; followed by the tri-generational clan who had gathered with their minister as the patriarch faced the difficult removal of a large tumour on his jugular that had begun only 2 months prior. And there I remained, the tide continuing to bring in new and diverse specimens of the vast population that surround the shores of Lake Huron. First sitting, then standing on the edge, waiting as the others disembarked and headed to safety, headed towards home. There was no news from the captain as to the condition of the one that I love. I was the last one left at the end of the day.

Leading up to this fateful day, I suppose God had a sense of humour: the car died, the fridge died, the washing machine was on its last legs. Extraneous pressures and responsibilities were also numerous. Then the call. Surgery on Tuesday. Ok. We can do this. The other stuff, well they are mere petty annoyances. Life was manageable, right? Indeed, it was. I have an amazing neighbour who came to the rescue and fixed the car. I had another fridge in the basement that I could use. And the washing machine, well… I’m hoping it will hold up if I don’t jam it so full. Just breathe through each moment right? Don’t panic. Take it one obstacle at a time. True. But I’d sure like only one thing to worry about in a year...not all these issues within hours of each other –seriously hours of each other, and with the surgery looming. But I can handle it. I guess I must not be at my limit as the blog title suggests.

So staying focused in my book, I waited. I decided that at the end of each chapter I’d lift my head to check the screen. And every time nothing. Several hours into the wait, I get a text: “It looks like your dog ran away, is there a particular place where he would go?” Well, that was it! What else can be added to my plate? This petty annoyance put me at the top of my threshold. Please don’t give me any more to handle!

And then I began to think about the saying: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. There is no Bible verse that says those words. There are passages that talk about not being tempted beyond what you can handle. (And I was sure tempted for the dog to remain missing.) But as for God’s role in pushing us to our limit – nope it’s not there. So, whether you are religious or not, there’s no fact or logic to back it up. Instead, here’s something that is true, and there’s actually a verse to back it up: “Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.” I don’t think there is a person out there who can’t agree that each day has enough going on. So let’s focus on the day.

You see trouble, pain, and suffering have a timeline, not a tyrant who decides who gets the small or large dose of disease, dilemma, or disappointment. None of us can handle the trouble beyond today. Instead, we must work through what is in front of us, in the hours we are given today. If we push our problems into tomorrow, hoping they will go away, well, we all know that won’t happen. Why? They’re just going to pile on top of what awaits. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a blog to say that every day is full of trouble and tomorrow it will be the same thing. No, rather, we need to think about what have we got on the plate today, and how we can keep going, especially when we feel we can’t.

While I waited, that day filled with trouble. The trouble came for the one that I love, the outcome of which I could not control. After 8 and a half hours I was able to see him. But I learned very little. Tomorrow, I would see the doctor. So for that night, I had to close my mind and hold back the tide of rushing thoughts of fear of the unknown. He had made it through and that’s all that mattered.

It has been some days since the surgery, and I wish I could write that we successfully crossed the bridge over troubled waters, but the seas continue to beat against the shore all the while petty annoyances continue to the point of obscurity. (As you can gather from the photo, a bird pooped on my windshield right in my line of vision! How ironic is that!) But even though trouble is staring at me, I will choose to focus on the day and the time that we all are given. We will gather on the shore, with the multitudes who are in similar boats, whether mentally or physically, and brace ourselves, for we know we are not alone. Let's not give up.

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