Marilyn Gardner’s “Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis”


Note from Carolyn:  This guest post is republished here with the kind permission of its original author Marilyn Gardner, who writes on Communicating Without Boundaries about cross-cultural communication, with an emphasis on faith and third culture kids. Marilyn grew up in Pakistan, lived and worked in Pakistan and Egypt as an adult, and moved to the United States where she is learning to live away from curry, Urdu, Arabic and the Pyramids.  She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 15 minutes from the international terminal where she flies to the Middle East and Pakistan as often as possible. 

Despite the pervasive popularity of the following cliché reassurances, Marilyn asks that you please leave the following well-meaning but unhelpful platitudes at home whenever you’re trying to comfort a person who is suffering during any kind of personal crisis – including a cardiac emergency:

  • God will never give you more than you can handle.  While some may believe it is theologically correct, depending on your definitions, it is singularly unhelpful to the person who is neck-deep in a crisis, trying to swim against a Tsunami. A wonderful phrase recently came from Support for Special Needs. They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.