Oh yes! Let’s break down what this throwaway line is really saying:
First, most people who say this to me are not Christians or god following types. What god are you talking about then? I want to ask. Are you saying that there is a God who decides what each and every person’s challenges in life will be? Or rather there’s a pre-destined life path that each of us follows and by having difficulties in life or ill health or bad luck visit you is merely living out the life that was tailored just for you? And if there is a God as imagined or related to in Christian faith or another faith I do not believe they would know particulars on earth to warrant delving into each and everyone’s existence. So that’s the god query done in brief.
Second, then there’s the ‘what you can handle’ part of the sentence. What’s the alternative? That after a breast cancer diagnosis and commencing chemotherapy you stop because it’s horrible? What of those people who go through a full regimen of cancer treatment, which doesn’t work? What of those people who sink into a clinical depression and cannot care for their family, operatie in ther jobs or close down on their partners? Because they have been given too much and can’t handle it.
So to all those who don’t know what to say but wish to say ‘You’re coping really well from where I’m standing,’ say just that and please don’t throw the line out ‘god only gives you what you can handle’ because it’s meaningless and totally unhelpful. And also dismissive of what you’re really going through as an adult who can dictate your own life: decisions and all.
Plus as a reflex I often view the person’s life saying the statement and think ‘Oh! So you can’t handle very much at all then?’