Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Does God Give Me What I CAN'T Handle?

I have heard many times in my life phrases such as,
"God gives his hardest battles to His strongest soldiers"
"God won't give you anything you can't handle".

Because of such phrases, which for me offered minimal comfort, I have found many frustrating nights in my life calling out to God and saying "You were only supposed to give me what I could handle!" To me, these phrases are lonely and discouraging. What happens when i'm in the heat of a battle and i'm so exhausted from wounds that I feel I can literally step no further, fight no harder, move no quicker? Am I just supposed to quit the battle because I guess I really am not strong enough? What happens when i'm going through such a hard trial and I can't handle it, and I can't just say "you are right, I am strong" and just move on? I have found moments in my life feeling like God must not have good judgments on me because I am not one of his stronger soldiers, and I can't go through this terrible battle.

It wasn't until one night of the beginning of my freshman year of college that I changed those phrases to something entirely different. I was sitting in the library on campus staring at my books. I recently failed a test I had studied hours for (which I was not used to, to say the least), and had a discouraging pile of homework to do. I was staring at my laptop screen which seemed to absorb despair as it poured from my fingertips into the system. In the midst of this academic frustration, I was also having issues with some family members and also some friends. One of my very best friends confessed some lies he had told me and had basically turned his back on me. I closed my laptop, put my head down, and decided I couldn't do this anymore. I had worn myself 100% out.

This was not the college life I pictured when I saw my acceptance letter, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I thought no matter how hard it would get, I could push through. I was strong enough to man-up to any battle college had in store for me. I was God's strong soldier who was willing to go through the fire for Him because I am strong... right?

Well, at that moment I was anything but strong. I pulled out my Book of Mormon and started to read because it was the only thing I felt I could do to help me not break down in the middle of study rush-hour. I remember finally, at least for a moment, feeling light. I felt stronger, but not strong... does that make sense? I felt strength beyond my own that sustained me but didn't give me all the strength I needed. I needed to start moving, and step by step things got easier and I started tackling the monsters in front of me.

Is that what taking upon us the yoke of Christ is? When I was younger I used to think the yoke of Christ was the breakfast Christ must make (haha). But the yoke is like an oxen's yoke. We both need to pull but Christ doesn't quit, He doesn't turn around, He helps and supports us every single moment. Or, we can try to do it on our own. We can convince ourselves that anything is within our ability to handle. We can do anything, God doesn't give us stuff that we can't handle anyway... right? I don't believe so. I believe God gives us some trials (not all) that we need to rely on Him and the Savior's Atonement to get through. We need to step with Christ as we take His yoke, and he will make the burden light.

Mosiah 24:15: And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

The burdens were made light! They needed their burdens to be made light, so what happened? They were strengthened! They needed a strengthening power that them, themselves, could not offer one another. Every one of those faithful followers felt depleted under immense trials, and they needed someone to strengthen them. They were facing trials they couldn't handle on their own, and they needed God. And their burdens weren't taken away or made easier, but they were made light because the people were made stronger. I believe we apply the atonement by believing that we can be strengthened through God through hard trials. I believe in a God that sometimes gives us things we need His help to get through, and He will. As my Book of Mormon professor, Brother Marsh, put it along the lines of,

"You can decide to do it on your own, and I guess you can. Eventually, at least. The road will be a lot harder and a lot lonelier if you do the extremely hard things believing you can do it by yourself. But, if you ask for God's help and others, you will find the journey to be more enjoyable and more rewarding. Some trials we get, we need God's help. And if we choose not to take it, I guess there is still a chance you can get through it. You'll come out with a lot more battle scars and tears though." 

My family had a scare with my baby sister last week. For a moment, I guess we thought we would lose her. For my sisters and I at girls camp, it really was for a moment because we found out she had almost drowned after she was okay. I guess it wasn't a trial because she was okay, but in that moment before hearing the good I felt like my whole insides crumbled into dust, and I was empty. I was watching "Heaven Is For Real" And the dad says that when he thought his son was going to die, a piece of him broke and stayed broken, even though his son was okay. I teared up because I completely understood. Part of me broke that day, a part of me I don't think will ever be 100% fixed until after this life. In an instant, and thankfully for an instant, I felt my world shatter from losing a loved one. I kept focusing on the "what ifs" and the "alternatives that could have happened" or "guilt because I wasn't there in case it was worse". I'm very grateful she is okay, and I can't imagine what I would feel like if she was actually gone now. But, I believe that, if she had passed away I would have needed God. God doesn't give me trials so that I can do it all alone and try to be the "best possible soldier by never asking for my generals help". No, God is the general that wants us deeply to ask him for help and support. I don't believe He throws His strongest soldiers, based off physical and emotional strength, into the battle. I believe He throws some of His soldiers into the heat of the war because He believes they will ask Him for Help. He knows they will be able to feel His love and see Him in His enabling power to get them to keep moving forward. I like to think God gives the hardest battles to some of his most humble soldiers (and also soldiers who need to be humbled).

When we try to eliminate the need for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the equation of our trials I believe sure, we can get through them, but it will be a lot more painful. When we simply put out "He won't give us anything WE can't handle" And make the We an "I" we forget the need for The Atonement. Instead I like to think,

"He sometimes gives me what I can't handle, so that WE (The Godhead + Me) can handle it together"

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