Faith, life, Parenting, Spiritual Encouragement, Uncategorized
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More Than You Can Handle

Nikko&Dad copy

At eight-months-old she started cutting her first baby tooth teeth.

Four teeth!

And I remember being the young, bewildered mom and people saying to me: God never gives you more than you can handle. A platitude that was suppose to help but never did.

I felt thoroughly unequipped for everything I supposedly could handle. This first baby included!

She was a wiry, wiggly, precocious thing and from the moment she arrived, she did everything with a ferocious intensity.

Sometimes I looked down at her brown skin, smooth and plump, eyes shut into two, straight lines as she rested, finally, in the delicious, drunken sleep of infancy and in the flood of love I felt the stones of doubt drop into my heart: Can I really handle this?

The first four teeth was some sort of sadistic initiation that we survived with long nights of the singing-rocking-bouncing ritual that leaves your arms aching and that spot on your back flaring pain with each pulse. We slathered buckets of diaper cream on her poor little bum and over and again I felt wholly inadequate.

Not up to the task.

But it’s not just parenthood that revealed me for the sham I truly was.
There were the financial battles (many, some ending in repossessed cars and bankruptcy, but that’s a story for another day), the horribly unhealthy church we attended and barely extracted ourselves from before our hearts collapsed in sad dismay, the next door-neighbor with a drug business and a baby girl.

The first five years of marriage to my greatest asset, Angelo, were the hardest, weirdest years. A blur of hard blessings.

Sure, we survived, maybe even rose to the task, but was it really because God gave us just what we could handle? No.

I’m still inadequate. Always will be.

The rest that I crave in between trials is a drug. And then I am ashamed of my love for comfort.

But I found something, a truth that sparkles in the dark, restless nights and glows like dawn on the frayed edges of the heart:

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” {Matthew 11:28-30}

Yes. Yes, and yes, to all three questions, Jesus. I am tired. I am worn out. I am burned out on religion.

I cannot throw off this feeling that it’s all going to crumble into pieces and I will be to blame. 

I don’t know how to do this life, I answered, I don’t know how to live by faith.

The words lay before me like Cinderella’s coveted invitation to the ball. And in desperate hope I clung to them. Immediately, the enemy, much like the wicked stepmother, stepped in and with a greasy smile agreed, “yes, you may have rest… If”. And then came the laundry list of chores: jobs to do to prove myself worthy of grace and rest and the strength to do life.

Like Cinderella, broken and sad, I sat in the garden fully discouraged… and tired. This scene played over and again in my private life. The invitation, the interruption and corruption, the broken, scared little me, the crying.

Yet Jesus didn’t appear to me like a magic-wand-bearing fairy god-mother to fix my problems. I didn’t hear a voice from heaven or have a mystical experience toward heart-healing.

Instead I looked at the words of the invitation. I studied them and ingested their truth, their power.

Come to me. 

Get away.

You’ll recover your life.

I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me.

Work with me.

Watch me do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

So I began the process of being in the presence of Jesus. To study his life and the the words he taught. We cleaned house. Packed up and threw away the unnecessary periphery  that littered my mind. He streamlined my thinking and taught me to seek out truth, not approval.

I learned to give myself grace, to take it from his word like the life-support that it is. I learned to pass it out to others like sweet candy. Because we are all broken, limping along and feeling wholly inadequate, regardless of the show we put on for others to see. And we are all to valuable to Jesus to stay that way.

We can walk with Jesus in such a way that we find purpose and rest in the yoke-bearing of this life. His burden is fitting for us because he bore the greater part of the weight, not because he follows a magic formula that determines “what we can handle”.

He’s already handled it.

And with him we can face and push through every trial, freely and lightly.

Keep company with me, Jesus invites.

Will you?

linked up with bonnie and lisa-jo.

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