Do you remember that verse in the Bible about, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
No, neither do I. You know why? It doesn’t exist. Yep. Just another quaint phrase invented by a Pollyanna well-wisher, a preacher to appease his congregation, a zealot to assuage rage or, perhaps even if I am more gentle in my judgement, just someone trying to help someone get through a hard time.
But, it is not Biblical. Kind of the like the old phrase, “every tub sits on its own bottom.” Sorry, folks. That is an English proverb. Not from the Bible either.
But, candidly, even if you take Biblical effort out of the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” it is offensive, insensitive and callous.
Can you tell this phrase strikes a nerve?
Why is that?
When A was born and my world was turned inside out, the very foundations of reality shifted, my script rewrote, hearing a pithy phrase like this was enough to raise my blood pressure.
I wanted to yell, “That is complete bull! This is made-up Hallmark crap! I am hanging on by a thread. By an eyelash. And you, in your meme wisdom, dare to tell me some empty notion like this! As if this knee jerk phrase should be enough to make all right with the world.”
I never did do that. Not to anyone’s face, though I did nurse the grudge many times alone and have poured it out through the windows of my car while driving to work at times.
It is so patronizing. Like, “God gives special needs kids to special parents.”
Where did they come from? No one gets made for this. No one who comes into this sphere of being has a built-in switch they’ve been waiting to use called the “Special Needs Parent” switch. No, when we find out our child has special needs, that our child will never have a shot at ‘normal’ or living a typical life, we are shot up, beat and bent, and our emotions are twisted and our faith wrenched. We find no comfort or hope in a phrase like that. We don’t want to be special and, God knows, we never wanted our children to have special needs.
It goes hand-in-hand with the old saying, “I don’t see how you do it.” A phrase that is never a question, but a statement, perhaps of admiration, but it can drive one crazy. I mean, I have restrained myself for the most part and left with a, “we’re all doing the best we can,” but what I’ve wanted to reply is:
- You don’t see how I do it? I don’t know how I do it.
- You don’t see how I do it? Well, what are my options? Escape to Narnia? Push the pause button on life? Move to Mars? The ‘S’ word?
- You don’t see how I do it? Again, the divorce rates for special needs parents hovers around 80 percent and the suicide rate for special needs dads is much higher than average. Don’t tell me you don’t see how I do it. I really, somedays, don’t know how I do it either.
My apologies for the aforementioned sarcasm, but that is the way it is
So, there it is. My rant on this is over. Where does that leave us? What should you say to a parent of a special needs child? Sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. We – and I say this collectively – don’t want to be pitied. We don’t want to be praised. We want – much like our children – to simply be accepted.