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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I Can't

Sometimes I'm convinced I can't.
So even if I could, I wouldn't.
I've told myself it's impossible.
So it has to be.

Ever been there?

How can two little words yield so much power? “I can't” becomes “I won't” which easily converts to “I give up.”

Sometimes a case of the “I can'ts” is as bad as getting diarrhea on a road trip. It makes everyone miserable.

When I was teaching, I didn't like my students to say “I can't." To me, that expression was a refusal to try. In my drama class, if I hear someone mutter those words, I ask them to express it differently. “I can't say the line” becomes “I'm having a hard time saying the line.” In the altered version, at least a bit of room exists for improvement. All of us have a hard time at something. Complaining about it rarely helps, other than to garner somebody's sympathy. Unless, of course, I'm the one saying those two words. Ha!

Two weeks ago, I drove in the worst winter conditions I have ever experienced behind the wheel. The challenge wasn't deep snow. The culprit was black ice. A three-and-a-half-hour trip turned into seven-and-half-hours. I drove thirty to thirty-five mph on sixty and seventy mph roads. We saw twenty cars in accidents or in the ditch. It was a dreadful drive. “I can't do this," was in my mind and on my lips. I was exhausted from clutching the truck's steering wheel so tightly. My eyes were bloodshot from peering at the road in the dark, looking for slick spots. My legs were shaking. Giving up wasn't an option—but I sure wanted to.

Later, after the trauma was over and I arrived home, the thing that stuck with me was how we can do so much more than we ever imagined possible when we just keep going. The human spirit is full of grit and determination to survive. That obstinate willpower really is quite amazing.

A few days ago, a friend went through a difficult surgery. He's in a ton of pain. He told us if he'd known how difficult it would be, he doubted he would have gone through with it. Of course, he isn't going to stop now and say “I can't.” Eventually, he'll feel better, and he'll be thankful for the medical success. Sometimes moving forward takes more guts than we think we have. But we can go beyond our “I can't” to “maybe I could” to “I'm doing it” and even to “Hey, Mom, look at me!”

Which reminds me of a cool verse in Philippians: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” I like that. In my wimpy self, I may feel inadequate. But when I put my trust in His strength, His power is so much greater than my best attempts.

Let's turn “I can'ts” into “I cans.”
Even if we've told ourselves it's impossible,
the truth is, we can do so much more.

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