Do you ever just feel like you can’t take it any more? You feel like you have taken all that you can take but yet it seems like things keep piling up? What do you do?
Well for a long time I lived by the maxim that says, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” I adopted that maxim when I was young. I had a lot of rough experiences growing up. Often it seemed like the things coming at me were out of my control. But then one day I realized that while I might not be able to control some of the things coming at me, I could control how I responded to those things. When kids would joke me for being short or a nerd, I’d just let it roll off like water off of a duck’s back. If I was hoping for a certain outcome in life and it didn’t work out, I would just shrug my shoulders and say, “Oh well. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and sometimes winning is losing and sometimes losing is winning. It’s all in God’s hands.” I was so unattached to outcomes that a lot of people thought I was a Buddhist. I, on the other hand, was doing what I could to live the tenet from the Bible that said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” That was something I knew from experience, because I had a lot of troubled days. Why look ahead or look back?
Soon people began to notice that I managed to be exceptionally resilient to things that most people used as an excuse to shut down their hearts. People wanted to know how I was able to “do what I did”. But the fact was that I wasn’t doing anything. Doing implies manipulation of some sort. When you’re not attached to the outcome, you don’t feel the need to manipulate. So I was letting everything go. I didn’t hold on to the “good” or the “bad”. I pretty much took everything as neutral. I learned that people’s attachments to outcomes seemed to be the very thing that they used to justify their anger and disappointment in life and it often led to people taking those feelings out on others. I had been hurt by hurting people enough to know that the only way to transcend it was to not want anything so much that I felt like I would be lost without it. Unfortunately, the negative side effects of this way of being was that many people felt like I didn’t care about them and you know what, I think they were right. I didn’t care about them, but I loved them.
There are some things that Jesus says or are said about Jesus that are hard to swallow. One of them was when some Pharisees said to Jesus in Matthew 22, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.” What does it mean that Jesus doesn’t care about anyone? Does the thought hurt your feelings if you are a Christian? Do you think that caring and Love are the same thing? Well, caring is actually the opposite of Love because in actuality caring comes from fear of loss and Love is the reality of infinite abundance. Jesus didn’t care about anyone because he was aware that no one could add or take anything away from who he truly was and he knew that this was ultimately all of our reality.
Another saying that is hard to swallow was in Luke 14:26-27 where he was to have said “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Is he serious? Does he want us to hate everyone except him? What in the world? What was he talking about? I’ll just say that I don’t hate my family and yet I consider myself a disciple of Christ. I guess how I interpreted that saying was that I should be more committed to the eternal Reality that he lived with God than the temporary cares that we are often pulled into and distracted by in the finite relationships we engage in or the illusory needs that we often feel are so important for our ideas of personhood. The more we seek and love God’s reality the more we can truly love others because we are all a part of and live in God’s reality (Acts 17:23-31) despite what our illusory cares might tell us.
This might sound hard, but I think that often we find ourselves in situations that we cannot handle because we care too much and don’t really love enough. We are attached to temporary outcomes that affect finite relationship conditions and we end up feeling like the guy in the picture. Enough becomes too much because even though we pile on everything we can handle at one point in time, the old maxim that “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger” proves false. We are not stronger. We are actually weaker for the experience and we use that lie to keep us taking on more than what we can actually handle. Maybe the first few times enough was enough, but eventually, enough will be too much and something has to and will give out.
I’m not saying this because I am trying to teach people how to be cold. I’m saying it from experience. I’ve been that overloaded one plenty of times. There have been times when I have found myself wiped out for what appeared like no reason. I thought that whatever was getting me had hit me suddenly when in actuality, it was building up all along. People who “cared” about me would have no problem piling more and more of their cares onto me because, they thought I was strong. They figured I could handle it. And when I said, I thought enough was enough, some caring person was always there to tell me that I could handle one more straw. And because I cared about them, I often tried. But you know what happens to the camel whose back is broken by the last straw? It becomes useless. It serves no one and I know from experience that the ones who piled too much on it will be the first ones ready to shoot the camel and put it out of its misery.
So for Love’s sake, if you ever feel like this camel do yourself a favor and stop caring and start loving. Lighten your load. And if you’re like me and can’t lighten it for yourself, trust a friend like Christ who knows what it is like and can help ease your burden. And if you can master living in the abundant reality that never fears loss or demands too much from you, do what Jesus does and live the Christ among others. Don’t let enough become too much for yourself or others. As they say, “God will never put more on you than you can handle.” But no one said anything about what other people would put on us or even what we will put on ourselves in the name of caring.