The New Middle Road

“It’s so weird how in the Church we’ve twisted this and follow Jesus is a different game. You don’t really have to flap your wings. You can just sit there and do it in your heart. Seriously…you know when I read the Scriptures it says whoever claims to know Him must walk as Jesus walked.” A challenging Francis Chan clip – painfully convicting and yet so funny, as usual. Here’s another favorite Francis Chan clip of mine, in case you missed it earlier this year.

God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle?

Since becoming a Christian, I’ve heard the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” on numerous occasions. Heck, I’ve heard it so often that I accepted it as Biblical truth and have used the phrase once or twice to encourage myself or another Christian. After all, at first glance it sounds good, feels good, and appears like it could be Scriptural truth. So what’s the problem? The phrase is simply not found anywhere in the Bible.

I am embarrassed to admit this was a recent discovery of mine. After a recent conversation in which the phrase popped up yet again, I felt prompted to research it further. As I searched for the Bible verse(s) this phrase might be quoted from, I could not find any. The most similarly worded verse I found was 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Morphing this verse into “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is clearly a gross misinterpretation.

In truth, one cannot read the Bible without observing that many of the Biblical characters we admire were given far more than they could “handle.” Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah, Job, Esther, Paul, Peter, etc. etc. Let’s also not forget the millions of martyrs in the history of the Church…I’m assuming death was probably more than what they considered they could handle. The clear truth from the myriad examples found in the Bible is that we are often given more than we can handle in our own power.

Not only is this expression absent from Scripture but it is an affront to the truth that God has revealed in His Word. A situation I can “handle” is one in which my own power and abilities are sufficient. However, the whole point of the Gospel is that because we are sinful, we are unable to handle the most important issue of our lives – our separation from God. This is why we need the work of Christ on the cross…between sin’s destruction and Satan’s scheming, we all find ourselves in a situation that is far more than we can handle. In fact, in the Gospel of John, Jesus himself said “apart from me you can do nothing.”

Moreover, aside from simply being untrue (and an offense to those who are dealing with a situation that is more than they can handle), an additional problem with saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is that it takes the emphasis off of God and puts it on us. In reality, God repeatedly allows us to find ourselves in difficult situations to foster a healthy dependence upon Him. Ultimately, it is God himself who “handles” a situation, and thus demonstrates He is the one in control – not us. The truth is we are in constant, daily need of God’s intervention, and until we learn that lesson, we will find our hot-headed, independent, prideful selves back in our anxiety-ridden delusion that we are in control of our lives.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So let’s retire this saying and replace it with this: Yes, God most definitely will allow you to experience situations that are more than you feel you can handle, but God can handle it. As we trust Him, He will be faithful to provide and though our lives may not transpire as we hoped, we can take comfort in the knowledge that His will for our lives is ultimately what is best and will bring Him the most glory…and that is all that matters.

The winner of the raffle and the $25 Amazon gift card is…

…Ashlee Jones! Congratulations!

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to fill out a survey…the feedback I received was so insightful! I’ve been MIA from blogging for a couple of weeks because as you have probably (or hopefully) noticed by now, I was working hard on giving my blog yet another makeover. I received a lot of feedback from the survey that my blog’s layout needed some improvement, so I listened and have hopefully delivered. This is honestly the very best I can do without spending a small fortune to hire someone, but I think it is an improvement over the previous appearance and is easier to navigate. A few things have changed, so take a look around to familiarize yourself with the new features of this WordPress layout!

Also be aware that the URL has changed and is now, and no longer With this new layout, I am always open to additional advice and ways I can improve it, so let me know if you have any suggestions or find any glitches. There are still some smaller details I am working out but it is mostly finished at this point.

After my short stint with web design, I must say that it ranks right up there with the worst professions ever (no offense to you web designers). I think I am permanently cross-eyed, have irreversible carpal tunnel, and developed an eternal migraine. I’m looking forward to getting back to what I do best…write. 🙂

Some additional insight I received from the survey is that some of you rarely visit/read my blog because you are not notified when a new post is made. If this is you, I made a tab in the navigation bar at the top of this page called “get blog updates” to guide you through various options to stay informed.

One last thing – I want to share one of the most exciting and encouraging comments I received from the survey: “It always inspires me to live for Christ.” I love it!


Caleb’s Afterbirth – Am I an Incompetent Parent?

For those of you (i.e. Mom) who are wondering when I will stop writing about narsty bodily functions that no one wants to read about and events that occurred 15+ months ago, this is the very last one! You are very welcome.

In the previous four “afterbirth” posts, I outlined multiple different factors that contributed to quite a bit of stress after Caleb’s birth. Unfortunately, there were even more. In the months leading up to Caleb’s birth, Sean and I had been seeking God and His will for our lives. At the time, we were on staff with Destino (a sub-ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ), and for numerous reasons, we felt that God was most likely calling us away from vocational ministry. As the date of Caleb’s arrival drew near, we felt more and more pressure to decide one way or the other.

After Caleb’s birth, the decision to stay on or leave staff weighed heavily upon us, and particularly on Sean. This, combined with the difficulties I was experiencing after Caleb’s birth, caused a crushing sense of anxiety for Sean (as I mentioned previously, it all began with a panic attack at the hospital). To provide some background information, Sean has dealt with anxiety and panic attacks since his childhood, and began taking an SSRI daily in high school (which he continues to take to this day). In normal day-to-day life, the medicine helps to eliminate his irrational anxiety, and I typically forget he even struggles with it at all! However, during major life events, Sean’s anxiety will often flare up beyond what his medicine can alleviate.

In the weeks following Caleb’s arrival, Sean was hardly eating, sleeping, and experienced great difficulty adjusting to parenthood. In fact, his anxiety was so intense he went in to see his Dr. for help. How come not one of the myriad pamphlets we received in the hospital warned us of the condition known as male postpartum depression!? 🙂 Because Sean was experiencing so much trouble sleeping due to his anxiety, every little noise Caleb made would wake him up instantly, and thus he began sleeping on our sectional sofa in the living room of our one bedroom apartment. Since I was on the sofa as well due to physical pain, my mom was the sucker who got stuck bunking in the bedroom with newborn Caleb. Haha!

Sean’s anxiety naturally took a toll on me as well. My heart hurt so bad for him as I watched him suffer that (ironically) it added to my own anxiety (in addition to the stress I was already experiencing due to our neighborsbreastfeeding woes, and a painful physical recovery). Not to mention wacky postpartum hormones and my own apprehension as to where God was calling us next. In an effort to stay strong for Sean and Caleb, I kept my feelings inside which I’m sure was not healthy or wise. I want to insert here that I am BEYOND thankful for my mom and Sean’s parents’ help during this insane time. I have absolutely no idea how we would have made it through without them. They were truly a Godsend, and their love and care for the three of us in those first few weeks was sacrificial and admirable.

In the midst of all this, we felt confirmation that God was calling us to leave staff, so Sean actively began searching for a job in engineering. FYI: job searching with a newborn, while struggling with anxiety and surviving on little sleep = really not fun. We do not recommend. In a string of providential scenarios, God provided Sean with an interview at LLNL when Caleb was just four weeks old. Three weeks later, Sean was officially offered a position and we moved from Long Beach to Livermore (370 miles) when Caleb was 11 weeks old. We then spent the next seven weeks living in a studio hotel room until we bought a home. The transition was stressful and tiring (forget any kind of “maternity leave”), but God sustained and provided for us along the way.

As I look back now, it is blatantly obvious why we were so overwhelmed. I mean, if our exact situation was proposed as a psychological experiment to study how people respond under extreme duress, I’m sure it would never pass an ethics review. However, in the moment, it was difficult to see anything clearly.

So here’s the meat of the whole experience: Instead of giving myself grace in everything that was going on, I thought – “wow, am I just an incompetent parent?” Why is this so hard for me? Why does every little thing seem so overwhelming right now? Why am I sobbing every single night in the shower? Do I just suck at this whole parenthood thing? Nothing about parenthood felt like it came naturally to me and I felt completely out of my element. To sum it up, I felt like a failure.

…Which then led to the comparison game. Why is everyone else able to post a picture of their child five minutes after birth on facebook, and it took me four days to announce Caleb’s arrival? Why is every other parent able to post facebook/twitter updates every few hours, when I can’t even find the time to get on the internet at all? Why do other new moms feel capable of welcoming 30 hospital visitors and I did not feel capable of seeing a single one (other than immediate family), until one week after Caleb’s birth (and even then, it was one close friend)!? Why does everyone else with a newborn seem to be in such great spirits when I feel absolutely miserable? How are others with a one-week-old going on fun outings when I can’t even recall the last time I brushed my teeth? Ultimately – why does caring for a newborn seem to be a breeze for everyone else, but for me, it’s the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life? Etc. etc. etc. And when did I find myself pondering these things? Of course, in those very few, precious moments when I should have been sleeping. A brilliant use of time.

Finally, (and thankfully), my cousin who is an incredibly intelligent and competent woman spoke some truth to me. Taking care of a newborn is hard. Your postpartum hormones are crazy, you are sleep deprived, and you and your husband now have the monumental responsibility of taking care of a new life. She told me that if I didn’t have a moment (or two, three, fifteen) of tears, I would be in the minority. She told me that she cried herself to sleep every night after her son was born. It’s overwhelming to take care of a newborn even without all the other issues we were dealing with. To hear her say these things was a breath of fresh air. I’m not crazy. I’m not incompetent. There’s not something wrong with me. I’m not alone in my feelings.

I wish I had heard these things before giving birth. I wish I had better expectations of what it would look like to care for a newborn, which is why I am moved to share my experience with others. Now, when I talk with friends who have newborns and are first time parents, I do everything I can to encourage them. If you’re feeling like you’re not getting anything done and being unproductive, set aside the task list and forget about it for a while. Keeping a human alive and well taken care of is pretty darn productive if you ask me. If you feel out of your element – there’s going to be a huge learning curve, and that’s ok. It’s a whole new world and like it or not, you will become a master at cleaning up “blow out” poopy diapers and getting in and out of Target in 10 minutes flat. Feeling overwhelmed? Rely on God and work together with your spouse as a team and support one another.

Moms – if you feel emotional and anxious…understandable. Your hormone levels drop precipitously once your placenta is expelled, which is going to impact your mood. Guys, if you feel emotional and anxious, this is understandable as well. Welcoming a new person into your family is a huge life change and is bound to impact you in powerful ways. If you feel like other parents are more competent than you – everyone’s life situation, strengths, and newborns’ disposition are different, so don’t spend time comparing. If you are experiencing a difficult time adjusting to life with a newborn, give yourself grace. Feeling like you’ll never sleep in again? Ok, well, that one’s actually true.

And most importantly, if anyone implies or tells you that being a new parent is easy, they are a LIAR or have serious amnesia due to lack of sleep.

If you are a parent, what was your experience with the transition? What did you find difficult about taking care of a newborn? Did you compare yourself with others? If you are a father, can you relate with Sean’s struggles? If you are not yet a parent, do you still want to become one? LOL!! Just kidding – seriously, it’s worth it 🙂

More posts in the ‘Afterbirth’ series:

Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Hospital (Part 1)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Neighbs (Part 2)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Breastfeeding Blues (Part 3)

Caleb’s Afterbirth – Body Slammed (Part 4)

Also, read about Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Birth Story: Rated PG-13 for Language, Nudity, and Drugs 🙂

And here’s the 10 ways pregnancy crushed my dignity:

Part 1 – Constipation
Parts 2 & 3 – Appetite and Weight Gain
Part 4 – Mourning Sickness
Part 5 – Incontinence
Part 6 – Crazy Hormones
Parts 7, 8, & 9 – Pain, Pain, Pain
Part 10, the Pinnacle – Diarrhomit