THANKFUL? No Way!

Reflecting on our recent holiday of Thanksgiving, I felt challenged to thank God for things I wish I didn’t have to. The saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” makes me cringe because I know for a fact He will give me whatever it takes to draw me to Him. He will do the same to you.

The reason He gives those He loves more than we can handle is because He knows we need almost brokenness to get past our human selves to seek Him.

If everything were manageable why would we need God? I also believe He wants us to thank Him for the things that break us because it’s then that we are able to grow into His likeness. He has to stretch us beyond comfort. It’s a dichotomy, but it’s very real.

I had been very self sufficient and a hard worker since my youth because I believed that if I put forth 100% effort and gave my everything, good would come my way. I relied on that mentality and it served me well through high school and college. Sure, I had many positive accolades and awards, but it still didn’t prepare me for what was to come.

Once, when my husband and I were early married, we served as ministry staff at a retreat. We were prayed over and the lady praying was taken aback. I didn’t understand at the time but now I get it. She stood up and said, “Oh my, you have a powerful path in your future.” We had no clue what she meant and just went about the normal business of living. Little did we know, she was foreshadowing our future.

After praying for years that I would be able to have children, low and behold, I got WAY more than I ever could have hoped for. I had a beautiful, little girl and a year later came identical, natural triplet males. Sure, our cup runneth over and yes, we had a quiver full, but the pathway there was a frightening trial.

I found out I was having triplets while having an ultrasound at the local hospital. My husband was home on his lunch hour while our one year old daughter was napping. Another family was also in the waiting room but had many family present for their baby’s first, grainy photos. My mother, afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease couldn’t be there nor could my in laws who both were working. I sat all alone waiting my turn for the cold metal strobe to tell me all was well with my baby.

I was slightly afraid because I had experienced a complication. However, that wasn’t near the complications I would be having shortly! As I lie there having the ultrasound, my technician abruptly stopped and said, “Oh my! I see two- you are having twins! You can cry now.” I lay there thinking, “What? Twins?” And then she became startled and said, “Wait! I see another. Wait. Let me go get the radiologist. I’ll be right back.” I lay there dumbfounded. How in the world could this be happening? I’m barely a mother. My mother is dying of Alzheimer’s disease down the street and I don’t know enough on how to mother that many children. I began selling my too small car and home when she came back to the ultrasound room. My first comments were, “Are there any more?” Once she said no, I began the task of realigning the Earth on its axis.

After arriving home, I tried to tell my husband the news but no words came. Instead, I handed him three stuffed animals. In true, pied piper sense his response was only, “Cool!”

I haven’t been as cool. This journey has broken me many times over the past two decades. Remember, I’m a believer in hard work and effort overcomes all. But guess what? Nope, it doesn’t. You can’t work good to occur. You can’t hope people will change. You can’t pretend good is happening when it’s not. You also can’t ignore difficulty and pretend it doesn’t exist. All of it is very real. We all struggle. We all have something or someone that brings us to our breaking point.

I recently read the book “Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers that says we need to thank God for the very painful, difficult situations we have. He says it’s then that God can unleash His power to make change. Usually, it seems, that powerful change is in our attitude and therefore, our behaviors. I’m no Pollyanna and I am real in that I struggle mightily. I wrestle against circumstances and their perceived unfairness like anyone. However, I’ve grown weary trying to make things like I think “they should be.”

Letting go of results and expectations seem to be my struggle. I’ve wanted things to be just so and people to do this or that but have only met frustration over and over. I suppose God wants me to let Him be God and me be Katie? Maybe I’m supposed to leave results to Him and enjoy the process of raising children the good and the bad?

I’ve found the self restraint required to let things be almost impossible. I’ve wanted so much to “fix” things to how in my mind seem appropriate. But where has it gotten me? No where I’d like. So, in an effort to do the unthinkable, I am going to try thanking Him for things I don’t like and for those I want to change. I am going to ask Him to do His bidding rather than my all too faulty, presumptuous ideas. Maybe then, I can finally relax? Thankfully, it really doesn’t matter because I’m not in charge anyway. That much I DO know.

Talk, Don’t Text

Texting has become a very prolific, convenient method to communicate in modern society. It’s ease of use has nearly allowed it to eradicate entering a number to have a person to person, real time conversation. You can even record messages to someone. Notice only the “to” someone- there is no reciprocation. I have succumbed to the text pandemic myself. It’s ease allows me to send information without having to stop whatever I am doing and not get bogged down in a long conversation that may or may not be convenient. It’s become so prevalent that I wonder if people realize its abuse? It’s not that people do it on purpose, but it’s a very lazy way to make your presence known without actually having to do anything. If it’s conveying an address, number, or contact, texting is miraculous. But if you are reaching out to someone regarding a major crisis, don’t text, call! Just pick up your phone and make the phone call. People are bombarded during a crisis and the myriad of questions and condolences are exhausting over text. If you are a close friend or family, here’s a fair warning- don’t text first time. Call or show up. Your friend or family needs help and may not have the time, energy or wherewithal to return your text. It also shows you are too busy in your life to actually be inconvenienced to do anything. Words really are very cheap when pain is involved. I recently had a loved one hospitalized and we had complications that required long travel for medical care and subsequent hospitalizations. The daily text of prayers and questions were kind, yes, but just another “to do” for the caregiver. It’s nice, but empty. Love really is action. I do believe prayers are powerful, but you don’t have to detail that to the caregiver, “just do it” as Nike says.

As I age, I realize that true friends are absolutely a jewel that are precious and few. You don’t need or want daily contact when suffering. You just want a one time hug, meal for the family, errand run or a visit or token to your family member suffering (or whatever the issue is). Just don’t assume your single text has done what you wanted it to do. It seems way too easy and requires no effort whatsoever. Showing up requires the sacrifice of time. Everyone is limited on that resource and we all know it.

God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

If you, like me, despise the above saying, then you will easily understand me. I absolutely believe there IS a higher power and have come to know him as Jesus. Yes, He most certainly WILL give you more than you can handle. It’s His means to draw you closer. It’s not to disregard your surely, evolved abilities, but to salvage those in overwhelming, unbearable circumstances.  I learned this tough lesson when I, Katie, Miss do-it-all, over-achiever, was given natural, identical triplets 3 months after my mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s and while I was raising a 1 year old. My sister said God did this to get my attention because that was the only way. I beg to differ. I think God did this to bless my husband and me and to teach us. Now there has been a cost: loss of prior beliefs, less invitations and others, but they pale in comparison to the life lessons we’ve gained. Maybe you have a similar story from a different perspective. Maybe you were blessed with a special needs child (greatest nod from God I can imagine) or you have endured a trial that has left you more aware of what really matters. Maybe you lost something that opened your eyes to something greater.  I don’t know, but I do believe we all can learn from and gain perspective from one another. That is why I decided to do this blog that many friends say might help someone else.