“God only gives us what we can handle” and other untruths.

On facebook today a friend posted a comment about how stressed she was. I read through the comments and came upon the obligatory “God only gives us what we can handle” platitude.

I came very close to posting a reply but decided I wasn’t in the mood to educate one stranger about the stupidity of that concept at the expense of the general niceness on my friends wall so I decided to come here and vent about it instead.

Three weeks after the twins died I went back to work. For weeks I’d been hearing platitudes like that that and they ran through my brain constantly. On the way to work the first day back, in Port Authority, I noticed for the first time a woman sitting on the floor crying. I wondered if she was OK but kept going on my way. I was probably crying too, as I did a lot on those walks in the early days.

Then I saw her again the next day, same spot on the floor, crying.

And the next day.

And I thought to myself, “Clearly, God has given this woman more than she can handle.”

It’s been three years and I still see her there from time to time. Same spot, on the floor, crying.

In my mind I’ve invented a story about her where her son was sent to war and died. I don’t know why I created that story, but I just imagine that there are few things worse than the death of a child and this woman has clearly been through a lot. Maybe I’m being kind, and she’s simply a crack addict who cries all day and takes drugs all night. I have no idea. But there are people all over who have nervous breakdowns, get institutionalized and /or put guns in their mouths all the time. I suppose nobody ever shared with them that God wouldn’t have given them more than they could handle. Clearly, that tidbit of insight would make a world of difference. 

While I’m here and feeling so generous and snarky with the advice, let me suggest the following:

“Everything happens for a reason.” is not a statement of fact.

“He’s in a better place.” has never brought a baby loss mom an ounce of comfort.

…I’ll stop before I get carried away.

And to my friend who is feeling stressed, I have no great advice for you except to wear happy colors and know that you’ve helped me manage my own stress in a million ways, so thanks! You rock. 🙂




Love & Muchness, Tova

6 Replies to ““God only gives us what we can handle” and other untruths.”

  1. dennel

    I second that motion. All of it.

    Things that piss me off: God never gives you more than you can handle. What’s the suicide rate, again?

    Maybe it was for the best. Yes, holding your dead babies in your arms is really for the best. much better than if they were alive. Good call, moron.

    God Bless you….I realize this may not irritate most people BUT.
    What gives you the right to tell God what to do? Thanks, but I’m actually one of the luckier people on the planet, take your blessings to the people who could really use it.

    Why people always try to think of something positive to say in a completely negative situation, I think is human. Try to make them feel better. But it doesn’t work. Best to say, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine. What can I do to help? Those are the best words to say to someone in their time of grief.

    Hope your friend will be OK.

    • Tova Gold Post author

      Thanks Dennel. I’m sure she’ll be OK – and she knows that- she’s just stressed… new baby/job stress. The kinds to be thankful for. 🙂
      I never really thought about “God Bless You” in the way you describe… but “I’ll pray for you” always leaves me bit bewildered. Not when it’s used in the way of ‘your sick and I’ll pray for you to get better’ or ‘you need a job and I’ll pray for you to find one.’ More of in the “It’s so sad you feel that way about something and I feel a different way… I’ll pray for you.” or, “You did that thing and now you are clearly headed straight to hell, I’ll pray for you…”
      …Man, if I ever got told that by someone in a circumstance like that, I might actually punch them. (In my mind… or with my words… not my fist… I don’t know how to do that properly.:-) )

  2. Shannon G.

    Thank you for this blog. I believe God frequently gives us more than we can handle. Ask King David or the Apostle Paul. If he didn’t give us more than we could handle we would have no problems or worries and we would also have no need to lean on him for strength.


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