“God won’t give you more than you can bear!”
No. Nonsense. Hogwash. As one of my heroes, Fr. George Clements, would say, bull excrement.
If you’ve ever personally told me something like this, I’m not holding it against you. I’ve learned to hear the care and desire to encourage it’s intended to express.
But…no. Just no.
God – or life – gives people more than they can bear everyday.
The ones bombarded and decimated by war, running from one nightmare to another? It’s too much to bear.
That child being molested by a trusted adult? It’s too much to bear.
The five year old whose mother just died? It’s too much to bear.
The child who knows their body doesn’t fit who they are, forced to pretend year upon year they are someone else? It’s too much to bear.
Those parents who lost their child in a terrible accident? It’s too much to bear.
The kid being vocally rejected, mocked, and bullied at school every day? It’s too much to bear.
The one watching their mother trapped in an abusive marriage by abusive religious rules? It’s too much to bear.
The litany could be endless. The things life does to us – the things we do to each other – can be unspeakably brutal. Adults and children in this world are given too much to bear every day. And it’s different for each of us – what destroys me may leave you relatively unscathed. But whatever the cause, pain, unrelieved, is too much to bear.
It crushes us. It kills something in us, part of who we are. Something goes dead to avoid the pain that is too much to bear.
Jesus felt it. In Gethsemane, praying again and again for relief, for a way out. But he didn’t get it. His friend betrayed him. He died excruciatingly, and in the end, while he didn’t lose his love for others or his compassion or his ability to forgive, he did lose his faith that God was with him.
It was too much to bear.
Even for Jesus.
The Bible says that eventually angels came and “ministered” to Jesus in Gethsemane. I don’t know what that means. I know it didn’t change anything. But maybe, when his friends fell asleep on him, it just helped not to be alone.
Too many of us stay alone – because either no one comes or because we’ve been so hurt we refuse to let anyone get that close.
But we can try. We can try to stay with each other.
And then there’s Jesus’ resurrection three days later. Too many people never get that either. Never get to feel the pleasure of the breath of life filling every inch of their lungs again. Never get to feel a heart beating for all it’s worth again.
But sometimes they do. Sometimes things that were dead come alive again. Too many times they don’t, but they can. We can hope for that, if we can bear to. And we can work for it.
The longer I live the more I think that if Love and Life show up in the face of what is too much to bear, in the face of all the deaths, it’s because we show up for each other and bring them.
Because, yeah – sometimes it’s just too damn much to bear.