Tag Archives: spiritual connection

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

Reblogging this amazing post from Kayla Lemmon on All Our Lemony Things

There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike.

All my life, I’ve heard this phrase whenever I go through a rough patch. *And by rough patch, I mean a prickly, gnarly patch that leaves me bleeding to near death*. You’re probably familiar with those kinds of “patches”.

“God will never give you more than you can handle” is the phrase I’m referring to.

more than to bear

And it’s a sweet sentiment, really. The people who say it are speaking from caring and concerned hearts.

BUT–it isn’t true.

I know that sounds harsh, but I promise I haven’t suddenly lost my mind or have become an angry-with-God bitter woman who hates the world. Actually, when I realized the simple fact that God can–and will–give us more than we can possibly bear, it got easier.

And it all started to make more sense.

I’ve often trudged through trials that overwhelm me. Ever since my childhood there have been trials that have made me “grow up” pretty fast. But granted, I know for a fact you’ve had your own fair share too, because that’s the reality of life. But this last trial is the one that shook me to my core and had me searching like a mad woman for answers as to why it was happening–and how I could possibly even survive it.

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I lost my Dad to cancer last month–if you’re a follower of mine, this is old news. But–it was absolutely horrific.

Every day leading up to his death was like walking through every level of hell–slowly– for lack of a better term. There’s no other way to describe it. The images…the sounds…the sleepless nights…the cries for God while we look on, helpless…the torment of rubbing morphine in his cheeks, praying it’ll absorb–but to no avail. The horrible, wrenching pain that came with lifting him up, laying him back down, lifting him up, laying him back down…because he became so restless and cried out for “home” every few minutes. And all along, in the back of my mind, I reminded myself that millions of people go through this, and have already gone through this, very thing. And it is simply unbearable. If you disagree–it’s because you haven’t been there.

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This trial was so consuming that I hate to even put it in the past tense–sometimes it still consumes me. Yesterday, at my Dad’s memorial service, it consumed me all over again.

I’ve suffered from nightmares where I relived the memory over and over mercilessly–I sometimes see his face on strangers that pass and worry that I’m going crazy. I cry over sad songs in the car and torture myself with stacks of pictures and yellowed photo albums. It’s beyond just missing him. And even with a firm testimony of the gospel and with peace that he is exactly where the Lord prepared him for, it is still too much for me to handle at times. It steals my breath–and it can steal my joy.

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So, the other day, I turned to the scriptures. I needed help.

I wanted to know where that phrase was that people kept repeating to me in church and at work and over the phone. Why did the Lord “trust me so much”?! Why did He think I could handle these kinds of trials?

And then I realized: I couldn’t find that quote because it isn’t there.

It never mentions anywhere in the scriptures that the Lord won’t give you more than you can handle. Yes, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 it speaks of Him giving us an escape from temptations so that it’s not too much to bear. But when it comes to pain, trials, heartache, and burdens– not once does it say it won’t be more than we can bear. Instead, it beautifully says this instead:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 28-30)

carrying man

The words struck my heart, as you can imagine. Christ is speaking to those of us who are carrying burdens much too heavy for our own shoulders. And in that one verse he simply states the reason why we are given more than we can handle: It’s so we can come to him. It’s so we can trust him enough to hand over our heavy, crippling burdens and let him carry the load.

You might be heavy laden right now like I was before reading and re-reading and re-reading once again this scripture that has never stuck out to me as much as it has lately.

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You might be shrunken with sadness or drowning in debt. You might be overwhelmingly angry at someone at church or aching under the pressures of raising children or maybe the inability to have them. You might be dealing with a terminal disease and you still have young children. And chances are–you might need your Redeemer to find you on the path and take up that heavy cross you’re dragging. Besides, even he tells us that he’s more equipped to carry it, so why not hand it over?

I’ve come to learn–slowly but surely–why I need Him.

I suppose it’s because of pride that I always thought I could just do things on my own. I’m strong, I’d say. I’m a tough cookie. I can help others through their tribulations while carrying mine all by myself. Well…wasn’t I wrong.

at jesus feet

I didn’t really know what needing him meant until I had no other choice. I didn’t know what it meant until I wrapped my arms around my middle so I wouldn’t fall apart–or the time I choked on tears and yelled toward Heaven. Or the times when I was utterly alone, and the silence was too much to bear. Those are the times that taught me he’s not just a want or a convenient symbol of love or a reason to do good deeds.

No, he’s the very air we breathe.

And he’s the only one who can make it bearable when life is simply anything but.

~Written by Kayla Lemmon

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Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Sitting in Silence

Sitting in silence . . .IMAG3148

How often do we truly sit in quiet, seeking God’s presence and agenda? I don’t know about you, but sitting and silence aren’t so easy for me. I can sit–and talk, or write, or read, or watch TV or . . . but in silence?

A few weeks ago a friend encouraged me to set a timer, turn on music that makes me feel loved, and simply sit in silence with God, inviting Him to love me. My execution has been sporadic with varied results from profoundly beautiful to annoyingly distracted.

I find it comforting to be reminded that the Holy Spirit prays for me even when I don’t know what to ask for. God Himself prays to Himself on my behalf, asking the Father to help me know Him in increasing measure.

I like the idea of being still to connect with God’s love. I also like the idea of practicing silence for the purpose of discerning His presence and His agenda. I do this often in a prayer group I’m in. We don’t mind stretches of silence as we seek Him. But I find it harder when I’m alone.

IMAG3162Before I began the weight loss journey the only time I truly faced the Truth that God had an agenda for my body that didn’t include obesity was in the silence and vulnerability of the night. I believe now that the Holy Spirit was calling me to pray, nudging me to ask the Father for help with this very real issue of defeat in my life.

Times of introspection, prayer, and silence are invaluable to the weight loss journey. What if we asked God some hard questions and sat in silence a few minutes each day until we got the answers we sought?

What if we said, “God, why do I struggle with my weight?” or “Lord, please show me the root cause behind why I feel powerless to change in my body.” Or maybe, “Are there specific health or nutritional choices I need to make to help me with the journey to losing weight? If so, what are they, God?”

Then we waited a while. In silence. And if He chose not to answer right then, what if we whispered, “I’m still listening, Lord,” and sought to keep an open heart to His answers as we returned to our routines?

Lord,
Teach us to discern Your presence, Your voice, Your heart. Reveal what we need to understand about our relationship with food–and heal us.

Share this devotional: Finding Truth in the Silence

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ The Desire Beneath

treatLife’s deepest lessons are learned and relearned at ever-increasing levels.

Years ago I read The Sacred Romance and Journey of Desire by John Eldredge. These books helped me process the idea that behind every desire was a deeper, more potent desire for God.

It was a time of deep financial struggle for our family, and I remember processing my lack through a spiritual lens. For example, I’ve always loved layering scented body wash and lotion, and for many years my favorite store was Bath and Body works. But during this season buying fragrant body lotion was simply out-of-reach.

As I prayed about this disappointment I remember thinking, “underneath the desire to smell beautiful is the deeper desire to live beautiful. I want to live in a way that leaves the fragrance of Jesus trailing after me.”* The thought brings a lump to my throat even today.

The struggles of that time pushed me deeper into Christ’s arms. I took my craving for good gifts and looked beneath them for a craving of of Jesus, of heaven. I never became so spiritual that I stopped wanting stuff, but it did help me focus on my longing to experience God over the longings I had as many of life’s pleasures were denied me.

As I write today, I wonder that this concept didn’t help me more with my physical body, but I never remember applying it to what I ate, other than to help me overcome disappointment when I couldn’t afford to buy certain foods. But this looking beneath the desire to the deeper desire applies to weight loss, too.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about turning our cravings for food into a reminder of our craving for Jesus. Filling emotional needs with food will never satisfy. Even real hunger is a metaphor pointing to a deeper need, our need for God to satisfy our innermost soul.

During our financial lack I grieved not being able to purchase some special chocolates I loved that were only available around the holidays. I told myself I could look beneath that desire for chocolate to a deeper desire, to taste the wonders of God. There was even a Scripture I applied, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Funny how back then the concept didn’t connect with the fact I was putting on pounds. But today the application seems natural. When I crave that treat, what if I looked to Jesus as the ultimate treat? What if I stopped my thoughts and looked beneath them, then spent the time meditating on the wonders of Christ’s love instead of munching?

“After all, the ultimate goal of this journey isn’t about making me a smaller-sized person but rather making me crave Jesus and His truths as the ultimate filler of my heart.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

Share this devotion:

Is there a deeper desire than that treat you crave?

*You can read 5 short devotionals that I wrote about this concept on my other website.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ The Deep Happy Isn’t From Skinny

Body size does not determine happiness.

Haven’t you seen unhappy people at all sizes–and visa versa?

If we’re not happy overweight, we won’t be happy at a normal weight either.

From a spiritual perspective the deep inside peace–happy, if you will–is achieved when happiness is tied into embracing the identities we are given from our Creator: forgiven, set free, accepted child of God, holy child of God, made new child of God, loved child of God, confident child of God, victorious child of God, you get the idea . . .

Lysa TerKeurst says, “Tying our happiness to food, skinny jeans, relationships, or anything else will only set us up for failure. But tying our security, joy, and identity to God’s love is an anchor we can cling to no matter what our circumstances might be.”

I don’t know if I could have chosen to deal with my weight issues if I hadn’t first felt loved. I’ve been around long enough to know that if I don’t feel loved when I’m heavy, dropping a few pounds isn’t going to solve the issue.

What I cling to is this Truth: Heavy or thin, we are completely loved and accepted by the One who made us. He has brushed our hearts with His mercy and declared us good and beautiful and treasured. When the weight loss journey is hard, I press into that truth. I ask Him to help me persevere because I know He loves me and cares about my journey.

That said, there is JOY in the weight loss journey. It’s not so much an identity thing as a freedom thing. Losing weight has freed me to move differently, to break some strongholds, to feel stronger and healthier and to enjoy activities that were before too draining because of the extra weight I lugged around. I think there is also some emotional cleansing tied to weight loss. I actually read that the toxins in our fat can also store emotional pain! I’ve had plenty of tears as the weight has burned off–and the other side of tears is usually a new lightness and peace . . .

Father, 
Please help us to build our identity on YOU and your love, not our body size. Convince us deep down that we are loved forever and always, deeply, passionately, and fully. Help weight loss to become an act of joy, not because our identity is tied to it, but because of the new freedoms found there.

Tweet it:

Body size does not determine happiness

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ New Perspectives

Buena Vista 5“I can instead of I can’t is a powerful little twist of phrase for a girl feeling deprived” (Lysa TerKeurst).

In life and in food we humans have a tendency to want whatever it is we think we can’t have. If our thoughts get into that cycle of thinking about everything we can’t have, that’s what we want!

But what if when we’re tempted to something that is permissible, but not beneficial, we twist that negative to the positive: I can be healthier and slimmer. I can eat one piece of chocolate instead of five. I can enjoy a salad tonight. I get to bask in the sunshine as I walk today.

For the first months of my weight loss journey I tracked everything that went into my mouth on the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. As I got closer to my goal I stopped tracking calories, but continue to eat the way I learned in those three months that I tracked my food. The lack of specific accountability made it a little harder to be wise, but was also a good transition to life-style change, not just weight loss.

As I made changes some of the twist of phrases I used were:

  • I can eat one small handful of chocolate mixed with walnuts instead of several and only chocolate.
  • I can be satisfied with one helping at supper tonight.
  • I can enjoy my smaller sized clothes–and continue to enjoy them by choosing to fill my plate with a lot of salad and a little pasta instead of the other way around.
  • I can go to bed without a snack even though I didn’t get a full supper tonight. It’s worth it to keep losing weight instead of pigging out late at night. I had a full lunch, and I can enjoy a big breakfast in the morning.

It’s really about perspective, isn’t it?

As I journeyed to my 55 pound weight loss, this was my prayer:

God,
I want this journey to be a lifestyle change, not a one time experience that doesn’t last. Please help me not to return to mindless eating. Help me to resist returning to junk food. Give me a desire for the wonderful, nutritious food You created. Help me to add movement to my days. Thank you for helping me choose not just what is permissible, but a lifestyle that is beneficial.

It is still my prayer today.

What “I can” twists of thought can you embrace this week?

Share it!

A twist of phrase can bring success!

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Jail that Sucker!

Person-weighing-themselve-007“The scale is an excellent tool for determining our weight, but it’s a terrible tool for determining our worth.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

This one statement  is worth the price of Lysa’s book, The Made to Crave Devotional, in my humble opinion. The weight loss journey can be so emotional, and when we tie our feelings of worth to the scale it is damaging.

I truly believe the Creator wants us to be strong and healthy. But not because that’s what it takes to be beautiful, valuable, accepted, or worthy. We are those things at 250 or 150! Or anywhere above or below. We are His treasures.

I have long thought about the concept of my thought life and its effect on my choices, negative thoughts, especially. And when negative thoughts are specific to thinking about who we are, personally, they are particularly damaging.

Years ago I read a book by Beth Moore called, Breaking Free. It was obviously impacting because I’m still talking about it. She says we need to put those negative thoughts in “jail.” I doubt I’ll ever forget the little picture that illustrated this concept. It had the bad thought behind bars.

I read the book about 11 years ago. Back then I allowed my thoughts to constantly beat me up, point out every inadequacy, and leave me feeling like a failure. But once I understood negative thinking goes against the TRUTH, real change in my life began. I experienced freedom and victory like never before. There’s a verse in the Bible that  says it is for freedom that Christ freed us. But too often even though we’ve been set free from all condemnation by His sacrifice, we keep ourselves in bondage, living under the cloud of disapproval.

I have good news!. Our Creator does NOT disapprove of us. He adores us. And we don’t have to disapprove of ourselves, either.

I love Lysa’s thougts. When she comes up against an attitude, comment or thought that has potential to return her to the bondage of self-condemnation she asks: Is it true? Is it beneficial? Is it necessary?

If not, put that sucker in jail!

Tweet it!

Put negativity behind bars!

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Cravings

sunset clouds“I want you to give up the one thing you crave more than me.”

Wow.

Lysa Terkeurst in her Made to Crave Devotional says this is what Jesus is really asking the rich young ruler in the old Bible story. You know the one. The guy comes to Jesus and asks what he needs to do to be saved. Jesus doesn’t withhold punches. He goes for the one thing the guy wants more than a relationship with God.

Do you feel as convicted as I do?

It was money for the rich guy. Not for me. But there are plenty of other things that push out my desire for God and scream for attention.

Lysa writes, “God made us capable of craving so that we’d have an unquenchable desire for more of Him, and Him alone. Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only one capable of satisfying them.”

Ouch.

Gotta stop there and pray: “Jesus, I want You most of all. Please open my eyes to the places I have misguided cravings. Please use those epiphanies to call me to Yourself. Help me to look to YOU, not to whatever it is I think I want, whether it’s that brownie, those french fries, or a whole myriad of other stuff not related to food.”

Pausing to pray that prayer for you, too.

So I’m asking . . . what are misguided cravings in your life?

I’ll keep it real here by sharing mine:

-book contracts
-financial security
-my kids’ happiness
-a flat tummy
-chocolate covered raisins
-new clothes
-cheese dip
-Starbucks
-my own car that I don’t have to share and that purrs like a kitten
-relationships

I don’t think anything on the list above is a problem if kept in perspective, but when I want a book contract so much I can’t be happy without it, and when it consumes my thoughts instead of Jesus, it’s a misguided craving.

Or when I reach for food when I’m stressed or sad instead of turning to God–misguided again.

When I long so much to be done with financial stress or get so angry about driving a car without a working heater (welcome to my winter) that I’m angry at God, I’m saying security, comfort, ease of life is more important to me than my relationship with Him.

Or what about relationships? I pray often that those important in my life will stay in proper positions. As much as I love my kids and my husband and even my friends, when I look to them for what only Jesus can give, that’s a misguided craving. (And puts too much pressure on the relationship, swinging it out of balance.)

Ouch. Pausing right now to talk with Him about all that.

Again.

How about you? Got any business you need to do with God?