Don’t Get Your “Can’t’s” and Your “Won’t’s” Mixed Up….

Let’s face it… life can be hectic.

Life can be overwhelming.  For thousands of reasons, we can be stretched to the point of breaking day in and day out without fail.  Most of us have felt at some point or another that we are unable to keep going in the way we are going without losing our minds altogether.

I’m often reminded of a quote from one of the Lord of the Rings movies, where Bilbo Baggins is describing how tired he has become.  He is advanced in age, and the weight of bearing the “One ring to rule them all” has burdened him to exhaustion.

Bilbo said,

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

I totally get that.  And I’m willing to bet that most of you do, too.

Although my “burdens” don’t involve protecting an all-powerful ring from evil masterminds, I often feel over-stretched.  Being a wife, mommy, nurse practitioner, etc., etc., can be a juggling act that just isn’t very funny at times.

As so often happens, I get in a rut from time to time, and I started feeling sorry for myself and wondering how I’m ever going to accomplish everything that needs to be done in a 24 hour period.  Feeling inadequate and angry at myself, I thought resignedly, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Then I thought about that four letter word we were never allowed to say growing up: can’t.

“Can’t” means being unable to do something.  Can not.  Being literally without the ability to physically or mentally perform some task.

Ever aspiring to cut out drama and remain logical and sensical, I climbed up out of the rut of martyrdom and self pity and started wondering what it would be like to literally be unable to do something.  I am physically healthy (although I could put some effort into it and improve myself, of course), and I am mentally capable of handling life and reasoning my way through it’s obstacles.

There are some, however, who cannot.  They either lack the physical or mental capacity to perform certain tasks.

My problem is an attitude problem.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need a break sometimes.  I am definitely an advocate for vacations and leisurely time to replenish our tired minds and bodies now and again.  What I’m talking about are those times when it’s not feasible to take a long weekend to the beach and we are faced with doing what we have to do whether we like it or not.

I realized that my attitude was all wrong.  The reality of it is, I can do all these things or I will do all these things.  Those are the choices.

I love the word “will”.  It has dual meaning; we can use it as a verb or a noun.

Let’s have a short grammar review.  As a verb, “will” can be used in this way:

“I will go to worship service this morning.”

As a noun: “I have the will to go to worship service this morning.”

Funny thing about that is, even though they are different parts of speech, they are synonymous.  When we say we will do something, we are saying we have the will to do something.

So you see,  there is a fundamental difference between “I can’t” and “I won’t”.  Do I have the ability to go to work? To school? To worship services or Bible study?  If the answer is yes, will I do those things?

So many times, our plates are too full.  Too often, our agendas are double booked and our minds are overloaded.  It’s during those times we need to do a self-evaluation.  We need to decide what our hearts true will is.  Is it in harmony with God’s will?

Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

When I’ve done an honest self evaluation and come to the conclusion that my plate is still too full despite my adjustments and deletions, I can remember the Lord has promised that if I am faithful in my service to Him, I can do it. I just have to decide I will.

So, when faced with exhaustion and defeat, just remember:

Don’t get your “can’t’s” and your “won’t’s” mixed up!



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