Clichés should be avoided like the plague

| October 10, 2014 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Capt.) Matthew McCraney
3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment
3rd Brigade Combat Team
25th Infantry Division


I hate cliché’ sayings.

You might say I have an ax to grind, but at the end of the day, I have to go with my gut, roll with the punches and pontificate their uselessness.

And while, yes, I just used four clichés in one sentence, my point is valid; they are useless, sometimes even dangerous.

Take for instance the old cliché “God never gives you more than you can handle.” What a load of garbage! It makes as much sense as a screen door on a submarine. (I have to stop with the clichés.)

It sounds nice and comforting, but when we stop to examine it closely, not only is it untrue, it’s really not even that helpful.

There is a subtle lie that is embedded within this saying that goes something like this: You can handle anything on your own, just do more, try harder and persevere. You can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. (Wow, writing without clichés is hard!) And when you do, God will grant you success.

While many people would like to believe this, life simply doesn’t work like that. If we take a moment to think about the reality of life and all of the difficult situations we have faced, we realize God often gives us a lot more than we can handle.

There are things I can’t handle. There are situations I can’t control. And while this may be a shocker for my wife to hear me admit, there are things in life that I just don’t know how to do.

My life is not completely within my ability to determine. I need help, I need other people and I need God.

Life is not an individual sport. Not only were we created to be in community with other people, we simply couldn’t live without others.

Remember the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks? The movie is quoted so often it’s almost a cliché in itself at this point. Hanks’ character becomes so unhinged that he creates Wilson, a ball with a face drawn on the side for someone to talk to. And at the end of the day (sorry, I just can’t stop myself with the clichés), he would rather risk dying on the open sea than continue to live in isolation.

This illustrates an important concept: No matter how hard we try, there are just some things we cannot handle on our own. Some problems are greater than us, and they are certainly greater than our clichés.

Perhaps we should rewrite that cliché. Instead, it should say “I can never give God anything he can’t handle, but I’m not God. I need help sometimes.” We need help from time to time. We need to reach out to those around us for support.

September was Suicide Awareness month for the Army, and with the recent suicide of comedian Robin Williams, it’s a pretty relevant topic. From the outside, Williams’ life looked great. He was successful, respected and wealthy. Yet, he was given more than he could handle on his own.

Feeling overwhelmed and thoughts of suicide go hand-in-hand. When you get to that place of feeling overwhelmed, realize God did not create you to go it alone. He did not create you for isolation, but for community.

Reach out, seek help and avoid unhelpful clichés like the plague. (I know. I’m incorrigible.)

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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