Yesterday I saw a statement that I have seen many times before. I felt the same irritation as the other times. It’s a pretty simplistic statement. Well, it’s not really but I think it is often said without much thought and so I’ll call it simplistic. I’m sure it gives some people (who say it) some type of peace, and so I guess that is a good thing. But for me? It reminds me how easily some people miss reality for so many others.
“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle“
First things first. I believe that our interpretation of who, or what God is happens to be an individual thing and because of that I’m not going to get into that. What, or who dishes out what we can, or can’t handle is really up to you. Your truth is all that matters for you. My truth is what matters for me. It’s not really relevant to this post.
The statement above is about how much we have to deal with in life. Some people choose to believe that we will never get ‘more than we can handle’. I don’t agree.
Ask a parent who has just lost a child to suicide as a result of bullying. Ask someone who has been wrongly accused of a crime, and their life and reputation is left in tatters. Ask someone who has lost everything in a disaster. There are so many scenarios where, if we were put in that particular situation, then perhaps we’d think there was a “more than I can handle” point.
I believe that mental illness is often (although not always) caused by ‘more than we can handle‘. It was for me. Life got to the point where I couldn’t handle any more, and I crashed into depression and eating disorders that almost took my life and certainly took over my life.
I also believe that my father died because he had ‘more than he could handle‘. The stress of continual earthquakes which destroyed his home and possessions, as well as leaving great uncertainty for so many people dear to him, literally stopped his heart and took his life.
Death is often about ‘more than we can handle‘, whether it be physically or emotionally. Suicide must surely be about ‘more than we can handle‘, not to mention addictions, self harm, psychosis. Some things happen that very nearly destroy us. Maybe we eventually climb back and rebuild our lives but those things have a lasting and devastating effect on us.
What concerns me is how soul-destroying ‘simple’ statements like this can be. It seems to me to miss the point of the extreme suffering that someone might be under. And there is little empathy or compassion in such a statement.
This post isn’t about my own suffering, although there have definitely been a few times where I had ‘more than I could handle‘. Rather it is about the suffering that I see around me. It is wrong for us to simplify it all and yell “get over it” because ‘you can handle it’. Actually we can’t know that for another person.
If you want to believe that, fine but we don’t support those around us in any way by telling them that. Personally I think that all it does is pile on the guilt and shame for someone who has more than they can handle. Yes we can hope, but we should never assume.
But then, that’s just my opinion. It’s not something I would ever say to someone, and that’s all I’m saying. I’m sorry if it’s depressing. It’s just we need to think before we speak, especially to people who are suffering.
“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why