That’s my famous catch phrase from the past two years:
I can’t do this.
I think back about the events of the past two years, and how many times those events had me curled up in the fetal position in my closet sucking my thumb…
Not really about the fetal position thing, but exaggeration makes for a better story, right?
About my first real job in nine years, working with 100 medically fragile children, each one of them a tragically sad story, and dealing with a complex #?*! Social Security and #*!? Medicaid ?*#! Government Paperwork situation (and yes, that IS profanity) that I had NO idea how to handle… I said it to myself a million times a day:
I can’t do this!
Being a single mom to two little girls who ALSO had their world turned upside down in the past two years… so many moments, when they didn’t want to go to bed, when they threw up all over the carpet at 3am, when they forgot their lunch AGAIN, or couldn’t find matching socks AGAIN… they had me screaming in my head,
“I can’t do this!!!”
Leaving my church of 11 years, and all my church friends, behind and walking into a huge Singles Sunday School Class where I knew no one. I can’t do this.
Downsizing to a new apartment one-third of the size of the home where I once lived with my family, and reliving twelve painful years of memories in the process: I can’t do this.
Coping with a brain tumor diagnosis… my child’s. I can’t do this.
Its amazing how many things I was SURE I’d never be able to withstand, that I made it through…. not always well, or admirably, but…. I made it. And my girls and I are pretty much still happy (almost always), healthy (reasonably), and well-adjusted (most of the time) two years later. Surprisingly.
I read this quote from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, on Helen’s blog yesterday, and while it refers to something totally different, they’re still wise words that apply to so much that we think we can’t do:
But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility. Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You certainly get none for leaving the question alone. Not only in examinations, but in war, mountain climbing, in learning to skate, or swim, or ride a bicycle, or even fastening a stiff collar with cold fingers, people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to. (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.93)
And this one:
After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself, but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in the habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair of even our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
And then a favorite quote, along the same lines, from Oswald Chambers (another favorite author):
Whenever we say a thing is impossible the reason is twofold: either our prejudices don’t wish it to be, or we wish it so much that it seems too wonderful to be possible. Yet God only does the impossible.
In the realm of what is humanly possible, we don’t need God; common sense is our God.
I’m pretty sure that I still can’t do this. I’m under no illusions about myself.
But God can…
Here’s to doing the impossible, for trying again after many failures, and for never being content with less than perfection.