Monday, April 20, 2009

What Not to Say...

Warning: The following post is going to be a blog post where I alternatively preach, and swear. So if you can't deal with the mix of Faith and Reality, quit reading. If you can, read on.

Admittedly, I am sure I have said the wrong thing many times over the years in people's times of tragedy, but somewhere along the way I have picked up that a SAFE response to finding out about other's bad news is "I am sorry" and alternatively "Is there anything I can do?" and many, many have shared their thoughtful sentiments with me. And I thank you, but what would blogging be if I didn't have something to complain about?

I am learning that there is one thing in particular that I DO NOT want to hear. Ever. Again. And yes, I realize that approximately 350 people have said this to me in the last 3 weeks, and so no, I am not talking about YOU, and yes of course I forgive YOU for saying it. JUST DON'T SAY IT AGAIN.

When I recount the TWO cancer diagnosis and a death that befell my family in a two week period, more people than I can count have said "Well God won't give you more than you can bear".

Bull Shit. Bull Shit. Bull Shit.

First off, the verse that everyone is referencing (1st Cor. 10:6-11) has NOTHING to do with bad stuff happening in our lives, it has to do with resisting TEMPTATION. You know, the desire to DO bad stuff - meaning that God will always provide us the strength to RESIST doing that which we shouldn't (like possibly the swearing above). In other words, God won't allow you to be tempted more than what you can handle. That 6th piece of chocolate cake that would definitely catapult you over into the "glutton" category? You CAN resist that, its not too much to bear. See the difference?

Instead well meaning people toss these words out, twisting them, and instead of comforting, it hurts. A verse that has to do with our choices, and consequences, gets used to essentially blame God for the bad things that happened and tell me I should be tougher because obviously I can handle this just fine. Which means, at least to me when I hear it, its my fault if I am not sailing through grief, or fear, or loss. Because, you know "God" thinks I can handle it so he hasn't sent more than I can handle. .

Crap happens people.

Babies die. "Good" people get cancer. Wonderful mothers struggle with debilitating diseases. Innocent children get abused.

I choose to not believe that a God that loves me, made me, and that I worship and believe in is putting me through this to because "I can bear it". I can't. I am terrified of dying and leaving my sons. I need, in a primal way I can't explain, my dad. The loss of my Nan from my life has ripped my heart into two. And yes, some days I want to break under the weight of my problems, and you know what? Other people are daily facing things that ARE unbearable. Completely, totally, and thoroughly unbearable and unfathomable.

Mental illness. Death. Rape. Murder. War. Disease. Loss. Poverty. Racism. CANCER. Unbearable ills because we live in a broken world. A world in which evil wishes to rob of us of everything.

And MY GOD doesn't "do" this to me because I am strong. I can't bear it alone. And that is the point I think. I cannot bear it alone.

2 Corinthians 1:8.9: "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God."

16 comments:

Lala's world said...

Amen, preach it sister!
I heard that same thing SOOO many times when we were having all the miscarriages, lots of "wow, you must be a STRONG lady for God to allow so much to happen to you" I wish I could have smacked them upside the head!

Megan said...

Amen Jen. Good for you!! One thing... do you maybe mean I Corinthians 10:13? "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, He will not tempt you beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it?"...

Hugz!!

Laureen said...

so true Jen...you are such a great writer...and I totally agree with what you are saying...
Did you read Sheye's blog at all yet?

votemom said...

thanks so much for all you share. i know we don't know each other except for a bit on the message boards, but i really feel privileged that you are allowing me to read. i am praying for you right now... specifically that He will help you keep believing all the true promises of His word, and that looking into His face will bring that not-earthly peace. it never ceases to amaze me how often i need to readjust my gaze back sqarely into His face... i am constantly looking away.

Holly said...

Amen, amen, amen. My biggest annoyance after my dad died was people saying, "With time, you'll get over it." It's not something I want to "get over". Losing someone that you love so much is not something to "get over".

Vanessa said...

Jen. Well written!! I'm praying for you!

Sue said...

Jen, there are a few big why's that I struggle with in this life too. And I have never been a believer in God orchestrating every event in our lives. Same reasons you mention. Do I believe He can make something good come out of something bad, sure. But not that He chose that bad thing to happen. I just finsihed reading "The Shack" and it was essentially about this very topic. Enlightening book. Read it if you can.

Di said...

True, I know I have been guilty as charged a time or 2. Made me think and that is good. We all need that once in a while!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jen, ABSOLUTELY. I HATE HATE HATE it when people say that. I know they mean well, but it's one of the things said that i have to physically make myself keep my mouth closed...I've been known to ask them, "so why do people have nervous breakdowns?"

I've been thinking of you and your family alot lately. (((hugs)))

celebratewewill

Dana K said...

Oh boy, SO well said Jen. When I went through an awful time a few years ago and people said that all I could think was "SHUT UP because you're making me hate GOD if he WANTS me to have this crap in my life". Obviously you said it better than I thought it. LOL

ness said...

Jen, I'm speachless. You said it like it is...exactly like it is. We need to hear this!!!! I don't know what makes Christians pull at straws to give a comforting word cause we just don't know what to say at times. I think I've probably done that before. Yet all the hurting human heart needs to know is that someone is there for them....holding their hand and saying it IS way too BIG to bear it all alone and so I will be here to carry some of it for you..even if that means listening or just sitting or sending you muffins...or a card of encouragement. We love you, Jenn. xo. Our hearts are breaking for you. And thanks for articulating so eloquently. I felt every word of it deeply. xoxo ness v.

Thandi said...

Hi there! I totally get what you're saying.Sometimes when people try to 'make things better' their platitudes and cliches just make it worse.I think it shows the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Holly said...

I love you so much, Jenn and I'm so sorry for what you are facing. I wish I could take away your pain and your fear. I wish I could lean into God for you, absorb His strength and pass it along to you. I wish I could hold your hand and walk this valley with you. But in a way, I am...because that's just what you did for me, when Anna died...when my husband betrayed me...when I walked through some incredibly deep valleys and felt so alone.

You were there for me.

I am here for you.

No, you are not meant to bear this alone...allow me and your sisters here to bear this with you.

Sometimes I remembered the incredible lonliness of having to physically face things alone...and yet, when I got online, you or someone else gave me a word or a story that kept something alive in me that I thought would never live...

...hope.

May I be as good as a friend to hold out that hope to you...as you so willingly did that for me.

(((Jenn)))

Judy said...

This. is amazing.

Being Me said...

You expressed this very well. I had never looked at it as God dumping stuff on me to make me strong.

Personally the sentiment that God will never give me anything I can't handle is comforting, because it means that I am handling whatever comes my way without judgment. I am doing the best I can and if I'm barely crawling or wailing at the moon, that's ok too.

But I'm known for twisting things to my advantage.

I appreciate hearing how it sounds to others.

Being Me said...

"I am sorry" and alternatively "Is there anything I can do?" VERY GOOD thoughts that remind me of another favorite verse.

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35