Although I might revisit this theme in the future, this will probably be the last of this series for now. Feel free to send me comments that you have heard that might make for interesting reading in the future.
I have to preface this next remark carefully because it is a sensitive one that involves an important religious brief that many people find very comforting. Most of us have had someone tell us during a very trying time that “God never gives us more than we can handle.” At its best, this is a comforting affirmation that God knows our breaking point and would never give us a challenge that we couldn’t handle. It is also a statement of God’s desire to be there for us when we feel weak.
But what happens when the challenge is too much and you are overcome by anxiety, depression, or fatigue? Does that mean that God misjudged you? Or does it mean that you really “wimped out”. Neither of those are very comforting thoughts and I don’t think that either of them are true. We don’t all get through the experience of a serious illness or accident in the same fashion.
Sometimes I’m afraid that the saying may leave people thinking that they can’t or shouldn’t ask for help when they need it because we’re never given “more than we can handle.” In fact, reaching out for help when you are sick or injured may be one of the ways that you “handle” what is given.
There is also a related comment that has no religious connotations but still might leave you feeling uncomfortable. It’s very simple and seems harmless: “You’re so strong!” This was one of those statements that really set off some of the ladies in the group I facilitated. I would hear them say “Well, I don’t feel so **** strong!” Again, they heard it as something they had to live up to at times when they didn’t feel so strong and really just wanted someone to take care of them.
For those of you who have heard these statements and felt bad afterwards, I hope my comments offer some relief. I also encourage you to politely let people know when they have said something upsetting. Hopefully, they’ll never say it again and leave someone feeling like you did.
Published On: September 28, 2006