If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “God only gives us what we can handle,” I could take us all back to Disney World again! And again. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’ve probably even said it to someone before dealing with what I do now. I hear it said so many times when people are going through hard times. The thing is, I sure wish it were true. If it were, my life would be full of sunshine and beaches, no laundry, and possibly pedicures every few weeks! That’s about what I can handle, on my own. This concept is not original to me by any means. I didn’t come up with it, but I do think about it a lot. People certainly mean no harm when offering this sentiment to those who are hurting, but I think it puts us in a dangerous place of thinking we have some supernatural power and don’t necessarily need His power.
I don’t think for one minute that God looks at someone and says, “She’s strong. She can handle that devastating diagnosis.” Or, “He’s got it together, he can handle losing a child while battling cancer himself.” Does he look at someone and decide they have just what it takes to handle a lifetime of being a caretaker? I don’t think he singles out a child and decides they would be just right for life in a wheelchair. The bottom line is that we can handle nothing without Him. While I don’t believe He “picks” people to handle tremendous hardships because they are so “strong,” I do believe that He cultivates the qualities in us to equip us as we deal with them along the way. He also places people along our path who demonstrate his goodness when we might feel as if nothing “good” happens anymore. Unfortunately, because of sin, we live in a fallen world, and bad things happen to “good” people. Sometimes, good things even happen those we might consider to be “bad” people. Until we meet in heaven, that is not going to change. These thoughts have been swirling around in my head for awhile now, and just yesterday, I ran across a quote that puts it perfectly: “God doesn’t give us what we can handle, God helps us handle what we are given.”
Now that I’ve let you inside my head for a little bit, (it’s a scary place to be 😉 ) I do have some examples of ways we have been blessed along the beginning of our journey with Lindsay. The funny thing is, some of these did not become obvious to me until after the fact. Sometimes, it was months before I saw how God helped me “handle” even small details that I was too busy or involved to notice at the time.
I’ve talked to my mom on several occasions about the time that we were doing some extensive blood testing per Lindsay’s neurologist’s orders. Because she was having so much done, he decided to break down the bloodwork into two different days. (For those who understand more about medical terms than I do, she was having a micro-array of her blood done in order to see if we could find a cause for all of her delays. ) Probably about a week before we came in for the second half of testing, she had already undergone a lot of “pokes” to get the first half done. The doctor told us we could come in whenever we wanted to finish the second part. (This testing was to be done in a separate part of the hospital, unrelated to the neurology department.) The day we came in to do so, the nurses got everything set up as we were about to begin. All of the sudden, the doctor appeared in the area of the hospital we were in and sort of “intercepted” us. He came in the little room in his “street” clothes, closed the door, and told us we would not be completing the second round of testing. He had just gotten the results from the week before, and he said he believed the cause of her issues to be something with her 18th chromosome. Any further testing would be done with the blood we had already taken, essentially saving us more “pokes” and lots of dollars. What we later realized to be a “God-thing,” was the fact that the doctor wasn’t even working in the hospital that day. Furthermore, he had no idea we would be there on that particular day. We never figured out how he discovered we were there, or how he was able to arrive with the information we needed to keep us from proceeding with extra testing. At the time, we were preoccupied with this new information and worried about what it all meant. When he left the room, he instructed the nurses to take everything from that day out of the computer as if we had never been there. In the midst of hearing some hard news, I feel God put us all in exactly the places we needed to be to receive a little unexpected blessing that day. We may not have realized it at the time, but we do now.
Almost daily, He gives me little encouragements, in the form of two blond-haired 8 year old boys. While I try to shield them from all of the “grown-up” discussions we might have, I’ll occasionally let them overhear on purpose. It’s a constant battle in my head between wanting to let them be kids and wanting them to know real life, hard “stuff.” One such example came recently, when I was (and still am) beyond disgusted with an insurance company. I’ll spare you all of the gory details, but, I was loudly voicing my frustration with their choice not to cover some things Lindsay needs. To the boys, it’s black and white. She needs this = she gets this. To insurance, it’s more along the lines of- if there is any possible way we can hide the exclusions in the tiniest fine print and avoid paying = success. Anyway, after much discussion about the “injustices” we were feeling, I heard Cason sweetly telling Lindsay, “Oh, you’re gonna talk, Lindsay. And you’re gonna prove them all wrong!” Guess who gives him such confidence? (Hint: It’s not me!!) I only wish one of them could talk to all of the fine folks I have talked to at the insurance company! One of these individuals happened to call me on the way home from school one day, so the boys got to hear my end of the conversation. I kept my cool until I heard the word “unfortunately,” one too many times. At some point, I remember starting to cry (which I hate) and telling the lady that it doesn’t matter how I feel about their decision, or how unfortunate she feels it is; what matters is my child is not getting what she needs!!! (Don’t make me go all Mama Bear on you!) A few nights later as I was in the boys’ room to read, I could hear Carter sloooowly scooting down the hall. I was just about to tell him to hurry up, when he came in the room with Lindsay. He had put her on a blanket and pulled her down the hall so she could “talk” to him in his room! Some days, it is as if these boys know just what I need to get over my little pity parties that I occasionally throw for myself.(I usually don’t invite anybody. 😉 )
While still dealing with appealing our insurance company, we talked with several people who encouraged us to pursue other avenues in order to help Lindsay. I don’t think it was an accident that they gave us these suggestions, and that their suggestions were successful! About a week after exploring one of these opportunities and filling out the necessary paperwork, we learned that a lot of what she needs/will need in the future due to her disabilities, she will be able to receive!! Every teacher/therapist that I have talked to said they have never seen the process happen so fast!! Such a huge answer to prayer!🙌🏻
This past Friday, I picked Lindsay up early from school, since it is so close to my bible class. I was going to the boys’ school to help with their Valentine parties , so I figured she wouldn’t mind coming along. When I got to her school, I ran into her teacher in the hallway, who couldn’t wait to tell me about her day. She told me that her physical therapist had gotten her to stay on all fours all by herself for some time! I realize this might not sound like anything special to you, but it’s HUGE for Lindsay! She does NOT like to be in this position, and usually won’t even do it if you are helping her. Ms. Lisa had tears telling me about it and said that the whole gym was cheering for her! Then, as I was walking into the boys’ school pushing Lindsay, a lady was smiling and waving at me. I was quickly trying to figure out who she was/if I knew her. I just smiled at her and pretended to know her when she said, “I’m Carol. I work with Lindsay! I just worked with her this morning; let me tell you about what she did!” I finally put together that she is the “Mrs. Carol” I always hear about who is Lindsay’s school physical therapist! She told me how proud she was of her and how much she enjoys working with her. Another unexpected blessing I needed came when I was least looking for it.
I can give example after example of ways God has quietly guided us as we try our best to “handle” what we have been given. Some of these blessings are huge, and some might seem so small. Some I share with everyone, and some I keep closer to home. Things I used to think were coincidences are no more. I don’t think I would have ever realized some of the things I notice now had I not been given the opportunity to parent Lindsay. I’ve mentioned before that one of the most difficult aspects of her struggles for me is not being able to hear her words. There are days where she is so excited, waving her hands, “singing,” and I am just dying to know what she is trying to say. The days where it’s obvious she doesn’t feel great, I wish it weren’t so hard for me to figure out the source of her frustration. But every single day, I have hope that one day she WILL tell me all of the things she’s been trying to say!
So, as great as it sounds, I don’t believe God thinks I can handle more than you can. He does not write these stories of difficulty into my life or yours. He hurts when we hurt. Those of you who have children know that feeling. We all have lived, or will live through pain, heartbreak, tragedy, etc. The good news is that if we ask, He will walk with us every step of the way as He ‘helps us handle what we are given.’ And I absolutely believe He will shower us with unexpected blessings along the way!
Matthew 7:7-8-Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Psalm 46:1- God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Hebrews 4:16- Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Until next time…