Donna Smaldone
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Sunday / September 16 / 2012

“God will never give you more than you can handle” and other B.S. Christian-isms

True or false…? “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

FALSE!

I say that without question or apology as I can attest I’ve been given “more than I can handle” — more than once.

God isn’t lounging around up in heaven doling out precisely what He thinks people can handle. He’s not at an executive mahogany desk with a list of toils and snares saying to Angel Gabriel, “Yeah, those folks in Thailand are pretty solid. Let’s toss them a tsunami. They can handle it. Oh, and that Mrs. Jay is a tough one. Let’s give her cancer. She can handle it.”

I pen this post on a Sunday with a dose of insolence. Today is considered “Church Day” by most Americans, whether they attend or not. Isn’t that uncanny when you consider the huge decline in church attendance? I’d argue that showing up to a building for an hour is us “going” to church; the way we live our lives is us “being” the church.

Nowadays when someone asks me if I’m a Christian, my first response is, “It depends on what you mean by Christian” – because the truth is, if the asker bills himself a Christian and behaves like a self-righteous, arrogant buffoon, I am most certainly not going to say, “yes, I’m like you.”

Words are important, friends. They matter so please choose wisely (more here).

If you tell someone, “I’ll be praying for you,” then please follow-through and actually pray for that person. Stop using it as a feel-good one liner to fill an uncomfortable pause in the conversation.

Oh, and when I talk about a “huge decline in church attendance,” I mean that 94% of churches are losing ground in the communities they serve. I don’t delude myself by thinking I have all the answers. (Incidentally, nor should you.) But I dare say the decline has something to do with how Christians portray themselves to this world.

I daydream about the day when we ALL (self included) begin to wrap our minds around the perplexities of hope and faith, embrace diversity, and learn to live in unity.

But since that’s probably going to take a while, let’s start a list… a revised Blueprint For Life. You in!? What would YOU add to the list? Please post your comments in the “Leave a Reply” section below. We’re better together.

REVISED BLUEPRINT FOR LIFE

  • Embrace the freedom to not have an answer for something. It can be heart-wrenching to not have an answer for why someone suffers, excels, or triumphs — but using, “It’s God’s will” can be very unfair. You’re not God. You’re not privy to what “His will” is or isn’t for the lives of any of His beautifully crafted creations — other than the one that is yours, of course — uniquely, sublimely yours.
  • Have you ever been faced with a particularly difficult, painful, or challenging time? …only to hear the voice of a friend say, “Just lean on Jesus. He’ll be your support. He’ll wipe your tears.” How much more powerful would it have been if that friend had literally been there for you to lean on? To embrace. To laugh with. To absorb your tears. To be authentic. Be that friend.

People need people. They do not need any more pat, meaningless, trinket cliches. Now, go… “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”Mahatma Gandhi

 

8 responses to ““God will never give you more than you can handle” and other B.S. Christian-isms”

  1. Dawn says:

    Be more tolerant of other people’s choices in every way…you haven’t walked the path they have and they haven’t walked yours – who are we to judge? There are as many different choices as there are people and situations and if we could be a little more accepting of the choices people make for themselves, not for us, it would be such a better world to live in.

    Thanks Donna for the opportunity to share…it’s funny as I write this I think of so many different things we make choices about, some simple, some so much more complicated but in the end only we know what choices are best for us.

    Love ya!!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you for the great addition, Dawnie! I love that you used the word “accepting” in conjunction with the word “tolerant”. The older I get, the more I realize we should NOT be ‘tolerant’ of one another but rather, we should be accepting. Awesome. Thank you!

      Love,
      Donna

  2. Jessica says:

    Dear Donna,

    I must respectfully disagree with you and offer your suscribers a different perspective.

    We are all children of God. I believe in my soul that God loves us all equally, all of his children from the 4 corners of the world. Devastating events do happen, far too often in fact. Do those tragedies mean that God doesn’t love those people struck by a tsunami in Thailand as you referenced, or anyone who is forced to deal with cancer or loses their life to cancer? In your opinion, when I say as a Christian woman that “God loves us all”, is that one of your “B.S. Christian-ism’s”? Where would your “B.S. Christian-isms” end? “Have faith” – is that a “B.S. Christian-ism”? “God is with us always” – this that a “B.S. Christian-ism”? “God will strengthen you” – “God will uphold you” – “God will carry you when you feel you cannot carry yourself” – “Give your worries and your heart ache to God” – all “B.S. Christian-ism’s”? Our inner spirits are just that, our own. Isn’t it irresponsible to diminish the feelings, the hopes, and courage that one person may find in such words? Our hearts beat for God in our own ways. Our thoughts make our every day and who would any one person be to pass judgment on the strength someone may find in saying to themselves “God will not give me more then I can handle”.

    Love and Peace,
    Jessica Bailey

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Indeed we are all children of God, Jessica. Not a single one of us is any better than another. The point of my post is to encourage people to stop giving canned cliche answers to people who are hurting and instead BE THERE to listen, love, and lean on. It’s not poetry that helps ease the pain (at least not on its own) — but rather, it’s relationships. It’s why Gandhi’s quote is so powerful: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

      It’s one thing to tell yourself that God is going to help you handle your life. You can even say that to comfort others. But God is NOT in the business of doling out tragedies. Nor does it say anywhere in the Bible that God will not give you more than you can handle.

      Love,
      Donna

  3. Wendy says:

    Dear Donna,
    Kudos to you for being brave enough to put your butt on the line :0). You definitely aren’t afraid to tackle some tough issues. On this one I’ll have to say I agree with you…kind of. I get your point and I too am fed up with the “christian-isms”. But, there are a couple of things that I would like to point out.
    1. There is a scripture behind ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’. It is found in 1Corinthians chapter 10. Unfortunately it has been grossly misquoted. It actually reads like this:
    “No temptation has befallen you that is not common to man. But, God is faithful who will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”
    That sounds a whole lot different! Especially when you understand that temptation is referring to sin. Not tribulation. The whole of chapter 10 is dealing with sin that had crept into the Corinthian church. And so Paul exhorts them to resist. He was not referring to ‘bad times’, unfair sickness and disease, or the all around ”stinky” circumstances that we find ourselves in as we live this life, but, those things that can cause us to be tempted to sin. As Christians we are not shielded from adversity. Jesus has never ‘promised us a rose garden’. However, He did say this, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have robbed it of its power to harm you.” When you say you’ve had your fair share, no kidding, who hasn’t? It’s because we live in a world gone terribly wrong. But, if we trust in Him, Jesus will see us through it and we will be overcomers! Time will reveal it all!
    That is good news!!
    2. I am as fed up as you are with well meaning people who throw out these phrases. I don’t believe they do it on purpose though. They don’t mean to be cliché. They have nothing else. They have been taught it from the pulpit and they have swallowed a watered down gospel that is empty and void of power. We all have to some extent. The Lack of true encounters with our beautiful Savior has left the body of Christ with nothing but empty euphemisms and tacky clichés. That is UGLY! And definitely not my Jesus! I would address it the way Jesus did and call it what Jesus called it…empty tombs, white washed sepulchers, a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. RELIGION.
    Empty clichés and no power only brings death. But, we can skip the clichés and still have no power, and the result is the same…death.

    So lets address the root problem… Jesus has been left out! What He thinks, what He wants, how He feels and what He wants to say. He’s the power. He’s the life. And He is the answer! If we get back to nothing but Jesus Christ and only Him, and stop trying in our own impotent power to make everything all right and everyone happy, if we focus on and pursue Jesus….WOW! He turned the world upside down. He confronted devils, religious Pharisees, and sinners. He never spoke without compassion or truth. And when He did speak, His words pierced the hearts of men like lightning bolts! And men were set free! This is the Jesus that I want to ooze from my pores and bring LIFE to everyone that comes into my sphere of influence.
    But, we should be forewarned. Jesus is not safe. He rarely behaves the way we think he should. And He always challenges us. As one author wrote, “This Savior is Scandalous”. And I would add… definitely not tolerant!
    Wendy Jause

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you for taking the time to share your well-stated thoughts, Wendy. I LOVE, “Jesus is not safe” — so true!

      “…He rarely behaves the way we think he should. And He always challenges us.” Good stuff.

      Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

      Love,
      Donna

  4. Jeff says:

    Donna I remember that untruism fans others from one of Reid’s sermons. How true. I am going through a lot of stress right now. My dad died recently, our cat needed surgery, my mom wants money from us, and we have a very tight retirement budget. I pray, but get no answers. I’ve decided to tell mom that we have nothing extra after what we withdrawal from out plan. Hopefully my sister can make up the difference for mom and dads poor choices with their money. She makes a great income. It’s ashame with all this other crap we have to go through this guilt from my sister and mom.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Yes, Jeff… I remember nodding A LOT when Reid taught us that Sunday.

      I am deeply sorry you’re undergoing so much stress right now. It’s sometimes hard to imagine how we’re going to continue to navigate the difficulties of life. Our journey is one step at a time… the only way we CAN move forward.

      Continue to make the best decisions you can, my friend, with the information you have at the time. I know you to be a man of integrity, Jeff. You will make mistakes, certainly. We ALL will (and have). The lessons come from the experiences.

      Love to you-n-Ursula,
      Donna

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