Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One of the Biggest Lies You Have Been Told By The Church

Today started off with an incoming phone call from a random unknown number.

Now I have to confess something to you: I have a deep 'fear' of picking up the phone from unknown numbers.  Who will it be?  What will they want from me?  What if I don't want to talk about what they want to talk about and then I'm stuck?  What if it's awkward?  It's paralyzing.  Now, I'm joking to an extent, but you get the point.  ;)  I'd rather have the person leave a message, listen to it, and then decide how to respond.  (which is usually by text or email.)  However, since I have become my husband's care taker, an unknown number could turn out to be any one of his therapists, a neurosurgeon, an opthemologist, etc.. So I am currently in the habit of picking up those unknown calls.  This morning, however, the voice on the other line said, "Is this Deanna Ramsay?"  "Um, yes it is."  (this is where I'm secretly hoping I won some exotic getaway in some contest.)  "Deanna, I'm calling from your Doctor's office.  We sent your ex-rays to Radiology, and they found a tumor on your hip bone.  You need to get in to an orthopedic doctor asap.   We have a call out to your insurance to get approval for that referral.  We will work on getting you that by tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, you need to get your ultrasound.  Oh, and we are pretty sure the tumor will be benign.  But you need to get to a specialist.  Do you have any questions?"  I was so confused.  Aren't these doctor calls supposed to be for my husband?  You know, the one who had brain surgery 6 weeks ago??

For the past couple of weeks, I have been getting intense pain in my left hip.  I am not a big "go to the doctor" person... or even a "take medicine" type person.  When I get a head ache, I wait it out.  However, I had been hobbling for several days and during one of Jon's speech therapy appointments while I was just sitting still in the chair next to him, the pain was just too intense.  I excused myself from the room and stepped outside to call the doctor.  They got me in the next morning - this past Friday.  The doctor did x-rays on the spot and was looking for early signs of arthritis.  But when they looked at the film, she said everything looked good.  She then ordered me an ultrasound to check out my internal organs, but I told her the pain really does not feel like an internal issue.  It really feels like a bone issue. But I made the appointment.  For today.  At 11am.  But here it was, 8:34am, and I was being told I had a tumor.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind.  I went to a friend's birthday lunch, but was up and down from the table with phone calls from doctors, insurance...  By 12:30pm, the referral had been approved and I was given a green light to see a specialist.  I made my appointment.  I stopped by the Doctor's office and picked up a disc of my x-ray images.  I went to a girl's night out with some girlfriends, where we processed through what the heck is going on with all this craziness!  And one friend even texted my x-ray images to her Radiologist friend so he could evaluate them and give his opinion.  At 8:00 at night, he graciously looked at them.  He agreed with my Doctor - he feels the tumor will be benign too.  (This is GOOD.  Very good.)  Jon waited up for me to get home from my time with the girls.  We talked.  And processed.  We are at peace.  We feel confident that all will be fine.  We cuddled.  Until he fell asleep.  :)  Then I slipped out of his arms and snuck downstairs so I could prepare for the Community Group I lead tomorrow morning... and so I could continue writing a talk I'm giving at an event in San Diego Thursday night... Oh, ya, but not before I sit down on my laptop and process on here.  With you.  My 'on-line family.'  :)

Ok, enough with the boring medical details.

Friends, here's the bottom line:
God has given Jon and I more than we can handle.  (insert Gasp!)
The reality is that the Church has done us a horrible disservice.  Many cliche's and "feel good messages" rob us of the Truth of who God is.  And one of the biggest lies we are told by well-intentioned people is: "God won't give you more than you can handle."  (Insert huge shout out to Mike Erre, for teaching me this Truth a few years ago and debunking this long standing myth in the Christian church.)  But let's be honest, we've all heard and/or been told and/or told someone else, "I know this is hard, but God won't give you more than you can handle.  You will be ok!"  But where, oh where in the Bible does it promise that? (hint: it doesn't.) It sure feels good though, right?  But in the (paraphrased by memory) words of my brilliant friend Mike, "God DELIGHTS in giving you more than you can handle." Wait.  What!?!  "Because God lives at the end of your rope.  Where you end, He begins.  In fact, God does His best work at the end of 'you.'"  Wow.  Now that doesn't initially feel as good.  The end of my rope is painful.  And scary.  And uncomfortable.  I like my rope.  My rope feels safe.  And secure.  Until I realize that this world is not safe or secure.  Until I realize that this world has some crazy stuff in it... like disease, and destruction and death.  Like divorce and pain and bankruptcy and fear and brokenness.  And tumors.  So what then?  What happens when we realize our "rope" is gone.  When we have nothing else to give.  Nothing else to control.  Nothing else to manipulate.  Then... we find God.  The Creator of you.  And me.  The One who probably sighs a deep sigh and says, "Oh my sweet child.  I love you, but I am SO glad you are out of the way.  You have been spinning plates, juggling your circumstances, manipulating life to your best ability.  And trying to squeeze me into any space that might be left over.  But now?  There's nothing more you can do.  The plates have fallen.  The balls have hit the floor and are rolling away.  "Life" has happened.  And you officially have more than "you" can handle.  But guess what?  Fear not.  This is not too big for ME to handle.  In your weakness, I am strong.  In fact, my power is made perfect in weakness.  Perfect.  In weakness.  Let that just soak in.  Oh, and don't forget that I am close to the brokenhearted.  I will never leave you."

Friends, this is good news.  Great news.  Because although I am so calm and confident that this tumor in my hip is going to be nothing at all, the outcome is still ultimately completely out of my control.  And when you add this to the already huge season of life we are in with Jon's recovery, I think it is safe to say that this is more than we can handle.  But you know what I feel?  Relief.  Ahhhhh.  Deep exhale. I'm exhausted from spinning plates and juggling balls.  I want to experience more of Him and less of me.  I want to see His power in its perfection.

And so I invite you to join Jon and me on this journey.  You may not have a tumor, but I'm confident you have something.  Something that you are trying so hard to fix.  To make right.  Something that is broken.  Or painful.  Something that you are trying so hard to make work.  But it is completely out of your control.  God is here.  He is able.  He can be trusted.  He is good.  And faithful.  And if you want more of Him, you need to have less of "you" in the mix.

So take that tightly clenched rope and let go.  Pry each finger off one by one if you have to.
And let the rope burn marks on your hands heal in the arms of a loving, good, powerful God.
Jon and I are there right now.
And trust me, His arms are big enough for all of us.


  1. So God continues to work on your "control issues". Welcome to the club. ;-)

  2. Wow, and wow. I'm up, unable to sleep again. And then YOU were given to me. Praying just now, asking for healing and help on yours and Jon's behalf, but also thanking Him for YOU.

  3. Deanna and Jon, I am praying for all of you and am so blessed and encouraged in my faith by reading what God is doing in spite of your issues. He is glorified and His name is constantly being exalted in what you share with all of us. Thank you. He is Good all the time!

  4. Thank you, Thank you-I so appreciate your transparency.

  5. Thank you for sharing Deanna. We continue to pray and am so encouraged and blessed to share this journey with you…..

  6. Deanna- praying for you this morning from the beautiful mountains of Guatemala. God gives us more than we can handle every day, that is the only way we fall on our knees before Him. God has you and Jon and your family in the palm of His hand, always has, always will.

  7. When my husband I were going through a struggling hour a few years ago I realized things happen that are more than WE can handle but it's never more than God can handle. There are some storms that help us realize how much we are not in control and how much we need God. I do remember going through nights, when the reality hits hard and the tears came, wondering how does the average non-believer manage all of this??

  8. Such truth, Dee. And isn't this what God has been saying to me all along in terms of my depravity, too? That I can't do good and right aside from God, either? And he gave me the law to show me the depth of my sin and instead of running to him, I walked in my own strength and turned from him. The reality of your situation is my tumor-heavy heart. Thankful that God is great love and that he will fix your body and he will fix my heart. Praying for you today, and re-living, in wonderful awe, my own rescue.

  9. Going through a rough patch myself. Thank you for this.

  10. I love this post! I have been saying this for years now. I say "of course God is going to give us more than WE can handle. If we could handle everything, we would have no need for God." A few months back I was listening to a podcast with Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham's grandson). He has written a book on suffering. I transcribed this quote from Tullian so I could always remember his words. so right on! "Often times what we do when it comes to suffering is we look at suffering and go “how can we harness this pain to improve ourselves.” Now the goal of suffering is self-improvement. Christian growth and progress according to the Bible is not “I’m getting stronger and stronger and more and more competent every day.” The Bible describes Christian growth and progress as “I’m becoming increasingly aware of how weak and incompetent I am and how strong and competent Jesus continues to be for me. “Here is the misunderstanding of “Christian growth”: I’m getting stronger and stronger every day , therefore I’m weaning myself off of my desperate need for Jesus. I needed Jesus a lot at the beginning of my Christian life, but Christian growth is the process where I need him less and less and less because now I’m getting stronger myself.

    -Tullian Tchividjian

  11. what amazing, powerful words! thank you for sharing, not only this post but your entire story. letting go of the rope is so, so hard….it's actually believing that God knows what He's doing with our lives. i'm sure you know this song…but it's kind of been my anthem the past few years, so i thought i'd share….its makes a great ring tone reminder through the day when you don't want to answers those unknown calls.
    Casting Crowns "Already There" :

  12. It really is a misconception that people say God is giving them these problems. I don't believe that God gives us problems at all but rather gives us the strength and grace to work through the problems that come with the territory of living a life on this earth.

    We love you guys and have you all in our thoughts and prayers always! xoxo

  13. Thank you for sharing you lives with us. I am almost 70 now and I can tell you that God never quits growing us. And He will love us into eternity. And I still have to practice letting go over and over. HE is the one who carries us through.

  14. I too remember Mike saying this at Forest Home and thinking it was one of the coolest things I'd ever heard. So true! Thank you for sharing your life with us. You have so many wonderful things to say and I feel so privileged to hear them :)

  15. Thank you for sharing this. I needed to read it!