More than you can handle…

“God will neimgresver give you more than you can handle.”  Have you ever heard that?  I think it is often said by very well-meaning people in the church.  They are trying to help and be a comfort to someone going through a hard time.  But is it true?  For a long time, I thought this was actually from the Bible.  Did you know it isn’t?  It’s not.  Nowhere does it say that you’ll never get more than you can handle.  That phrase makes me struggle.  I struggle with the “why” questions.  Why would God put me through this?  Why is there so much to handle?  Why is this happening to me? 

Much of what happens in our lives is the consequence of sin.  Some things, we do to ourselves.  Some things happen because of the sin of others.  God isn’t doing these things TO us.  He has given us the chance to make our own choices, and our choices ripple out into the world. 

Let me ask you a question.  Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Like there’s just too much?   We can handle a lot.  There are many things that we have to handle every day.  It’s really easy to get overwhelmed.  To try to carry more than you can handle on your own.

So often, we feel as though we can’t ask for help.  That we have to be strong enough to handle anything life throws at us.  That, if we had enough faith, we could handle anything.  Society teaches us that needing help shows weakness, and we have to be strong.  God has something very different to say about weakness. 

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth.  At this time, the church was a mess.  People were making horrible choices.  Bad stuff was happening.  God still had this to say to Paul and the church. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

God says His power is made perfect in our weakness.  That we should boast about our weaknesses, not hide them.  When we are too weak, we have access to God’s great power.  It is ok to feel overwhelmed.  It is ok to ask for help.  One way to do this is to build a community around yourself of friends and strong believers.  Who do you have around you that builds you up?

Paul and Timothy experienced being overwhelmed.  In 2 Corinthians 1: 8-10, Paul writes this: 

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,

Paul says the pressure was far beyond their ability to endure.  They had been given far more than they could handle.  Did Paul ask the question “why did God do this to me?”  No.  He says “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  We aren’t expected to handle things on our own.  We can rely on God.  The God who is powerful enough to raise the dead has our backs.  We can depend on Him to deliver us .

The summer before 6th grade, my parents divorced.  They did it while I was away at camp.  When I came home, my mom had moved out.  I was crushed.  My whole world caved in on me.  It was more than I could bear.  I wanted to hide it, to handle it all on my own.  My best friend found out before I did.  More crushing.  I felt like there was no one for me to turn to.  I remember one night calling out to God.  I felt his presence in the room.  I felt him holding my hand as I finally fell asleep.  His strength found me in my weakness.  He held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own. 

As I began to give things back to God, my burden became lighter.  I still had the same things to deal with, but I wasn’t carrying it all on my own.  God wants to share our burden.  He also puts people into our lives to walk alongside us.  Find someone in your life that you can talk to.  Share each others’ stress. 

In your life, you will absolutely face far more than you can handle.  You can’t handle it all, but God can.  Ask for help.  And lean into the God who loved you enough to die for you.

Super Heroes

Superhero kid

Something I’ve learned in my twenty-plus years working with kids is that they all need a hero.  Every.  Single.  One.  Someone to look up to.  Someone to pick them up when they fall.  Someone to be strong when they are weak and afraid.  Someone super… or even just ordinary.  Ordinary actions from an ordinary person become heroic in the eyes of a child.  There are a lot of things you don’t need in order to be a super hero.

You don’t need a mask and a cape to be a hero.  Even super heroes have weaknesses.  Kids aren’t looking for perfect, they’re looking for real.  And believe me, they see through the act.  Be yourself.  Be vulnerable.  Say you’re sorry when you need to.  You’ll teach them self-confidence and honesty.  The true character of a hero.

You don’t have to have x-ray vision to be a hero.  You don’t need to see through someone, you just need to see them.  And really look.  Are they hurting?  Are they lost?  Are they lonely?  A simple hug, a kind word, or a little guidance might be all they need.

You don’t have to fly to be a hero.  Kids can zoom around the room all on their own.  Sometimes, they fall.  Sometimes, life knocks them down, and they can’t get back up.  They need you.  The grown up.  They need you to pick them up and dust them off.  Bend down and offer them a hand.  Pay attention to what they are struggling with.  Be willing to admit your own struggles.  Lift them back up and watch them soar!

You don’t need super strength to be a hero.  A lot of things can be fixed with the right word from a real friend.  True strength is sticking with them, even when it’s not much fun.  Kids need that.  And sometimes, they just need super glue.

You don’t need super speed to be a hero.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Some heroes just need to keep showing up.  Keep showing they care, and they aren’t going to give up.  You’ll need patience.  Maybe a big dash of stubborn.  Hang in there.  I promise it’ll be worth it.

You don’t need super powers to be a super hero.  Be extraordinary in ordinary, everyday life.  Give a hug.  Smile.  Touch a hand to touch a heart.  Every child needs a hero, so does every adult.  Someone needs you.  Go be super!

Dodge Ball

dodge ball

I was having a conversation with a friend, recently.  For whatever reason, the topic of dodge ball came up.  We all played as kids.  Many of us have mixed (mostly bad) feelings surrounding these memories.  We’ve all been picked last for the team.  Missed the ball and lost the game.  Been beamed in the back of the head.  Cringed as multiple balls came for us at the same time.  Only a golden few ruled the world of dodge ball, and I was not golden.  As we discussed the many reasons why we would never play this game at a church kids’ event, I started to think of the many life lessons I learned while running in terror from an eight and a half inch ball of rubber.

#1  Don’t base your own self-worth on the opinion of other people.

Sometimes, you’ll be picked last.  Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok.  People will say hurtful things.  Laugh at us.  Leave us out.  We need to pull our value from those around us who care for us.  Ultimately, the most important opinion is that of our loving God.  He thinks we are amazing. 

#2  Our bruises make us beautiful.

Life is going to leave its mark.  Bad things will happen to you.  Sometimes, it’s the people we love most that cause the most pain.  All of the hurts we survive leave bruises in their wake, but these bruises color our story.  They make us who we are.  God uses them to make us beautiful.

#3  You can’t win every time.

You probably won’t win most of the time.  You are going to drop the ball.  Some of your failures will be hugely public and far-reaching.  The good news is God can redeem any situation.  He loves us in our success, and He loves us in our failure.  It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.

#4  Life doesn’t happen just one thing at a time.

When life throws a ball at you, there’s never just one.  Multiple trials come our way.  Many at the same time.  You try to learn to dodge the barrage of hits that Satan aims at you, only to discover that you can’t do it on your own.  Let God catch the balls and take the hits for you. 

#5  Sometimes you stand your ground.  Sometimes you run away.

Some fights are worth fighting.  Sometimes stubbornness gets you the victory.  When you can stand in front of a situation and take it head on.  Catch the ball and win the game.  When you are the golden one.  But not all fights are worth fighting.  You have to learn when to run away.  When to fall on your knees and surrender the fight to God’s will.  When to dodge to survive.

#6  Life can hurt.  A lot.  But live it, anyway.

Every once in a while, life smacks you in the back of the head and knocks you to the ground.  Hard.  Hard like you lost your job.  Hard like your kid’s heart is broken.  Hard like someone you love dies.  Believe me when I tell you, the game of life is still worth playing.  God has good plans for you.  Joy is worth the risk of pain.  Live every single ball-dodging moment to its fullest.

So, maybe dodge ball should be played.  Maybe the children of this generation need to learn these lessons.  Get a few bruises.  Keep their egos in check.  Maybe dodge ball should be played by kids… but I still don’t want to be in charge of the carnage.