God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

Parents of kids with special needs get this line all the time. I personally don’t think God is some wise old dude in the sky, doling out disabilities based on parental strength. Often it seems people use this quote because they don’t know what to say or do, and they feel helpless. Or worse, it is a way of washing their hands of the situation. God did it. Who can argue?   

If you are ever thinking about letting that tired old line roll off your tongue, here is an alternative to try, which I guarantee will go over better…

“How ’bout I baby-sit for a couple of hours?” 

Even if the parents can’t let go of their white knuckle grip and let you, they’ll remember your kindness.                                                                             

Anyhoo. Windsong, Cleveland’s feminist chorus, is lucky enough to have a very talented composer in our midst, and our director Karen Weaver commissioned her to write a song specifically for the 30th anniversary of the group.  It is  a gorgeous ballad called I Have Learned(Not all roses are red).

These are some of the lyrics, in blue, written by Jan C. Snow: 

“I have learned, in my years, sometimes we are given more than we can bear.

The  trick is in knowing what to set down. 

-it’s as much about balance as strength.” 

And that’s just it, isn’t it? There are some things we just have to set down. I’ve had to set down any idea of a career for a while. My child has needed me home. I’ve set down worrying about what some relatives think of me. The burden was too heavy to carry. I’ve set down my old ideas about parenting, education, health care & medicine, forgiveness, friendship, marriage.

“The over and under and over and under of loss and love.”

So many times I’ve struggled against what is, wishing for things to be different. But while I’ve been home, I’ve had the most wonderful opportunity to delve into matters of the soul. While I must be available, I’m not needed every minute. This has given me time to read and write and look deep within myself at areas which needed to be healed, and are still healing. What once felt like a loss has actually been a gain.

And I know a wish on a star, might not make it so, but it raises our gaze to the sky.”

Life is different than I ever expected it would be,and it continues to change all the time.  

 “I have learned, not all roses are red. Not all violets are blue. “

It is rich, and it is blessed. And some days it does feel like more than I can bear.  Especially if I look out too far ahead.

And everyone has something. There is a dear sweet woman in the chorus whose husband recently became paralyzed in an accident. Maybe you are caring for aging parents. Perhaps you are going through a divorce. Perhaps you have health issues, or financial trouble, or abuse in your past. Maybe addiction weaves its way into your life. Maybe you are lonely. Our hearts are tender things. 

 “I have learned, not all roses are red. Not all violets are blue.”

“And yet, you see we bloom,

we bloom.”

Sometimes it seems like more than we can handle. 

It’s okay to set some things down. 

Be gentle with yourself.


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17 Responses to God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

  1. Kim says:

    Seriously, pull the thoughts from my head why don’t you?!! I was having a conversation about that famous “god doesn’t give you more than you can handle” line with a good friend on Monday as well as having someone say to me that “god gave Roc Autism for a reason” Fool, don’t ever say something like that to a Mommmy!

    I love how you’ve written this. I’ve slowly learned to set some things down and walk away too. It’s saved my sanity for sure.

  2. Carrie Link says:

    I am all about pruning/shedding/setting some (big) things down these days. Feels great. Setting some things down, and re-defining “enough” that is my current life lesson.

  3. Courtney says:

    I’m really not into that line either … along with the “everything happens for a reason” line.

    Your quotes are much better. xo

  4. Jess says:

    “And I know a wish on a star, might not make it so, but it raises our gaze to the sky.”

    love that. LOVE it.

  5. Wanda says:

    Beautifully written, Michelle. Maybe the line should be “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear together. How about I babysit for a couple hours?”

    Some of us forget “we are all one” at times.

  6. Jenny R says:

    This is a great post, Michelle. And a lovely song too.

  7. Susan says:

    Thanks for the post. That line always makes me cringe, along with “there but for the grace of God. . .”. I hate that line/lie. We all have grace.

  8. Maggie says:

    I needed to hear those words today – it is ok to set things down – at least for a little while. Thank you for a great post.

  9. Heather says:

    How did you know I was driving into work this morning telling myself those very words…”you can do this, Heather…God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Today seemed like one of those days I was being tested on this theory. I needed this post. I am for certain going to set some things down. I love that. I love, love, love that. Thank you.

  10. Bonnie says:

    A wonderful way to view life.

  11. Fran says:

    The tears are flowing. Your words are so meaningful. Judah got his best report card since we’ve been here and went to a sleep over at a friend’s last week/ I’m going to keep gazing at the sky.

  12. Michelle says:

    Awesome Fran! So happy to hear this. Go Judah!!!

  13. Oh, Michelle, I love this post. And that is such a beautiful, thought-filled song. Thanks for sharing it.

  14. Amanda says:

    I’m going to print this off and keep it for reference. Next weekend we have to visit my Dad and I will need a few calming words of wisdom to avoid committing patricide. What’s that other phrase I hate? Oh yeah, “He means well…”

  15. sarah says:

    absolutley. ABSOLUTELY. you don’t have to do it all. AND you don’t have to do it all alone.

    wonderful post.

  16. redheadmomma says:

    those are AMAZING quotes from Jan Snow. I love them. Keeping them in my “quote” file. XO

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