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God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle

by GAIL GOOLSBY GROWTH Culture adjustment Transitions Re-entry Strength Overwhelmed
God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.”
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

I’m not sure I ever said the words, “Lord, I will go wherever you want me,” exactly, but the message must have broken through in my desire to be fully devoted. When my husband first started making short-term trips to Afghanistan, I was glad for him but content in my own participation in the Great Commission. I never thought I would end up there, likely the biggest transition in my forty decades of life (besides motherhood).

I went to Kabul as a brand-new principal serving expats, Muslims, and war-traumatized people. I had visited but never lived in a different country. My three children were launching, and I left them behind. I was alone with my husband for the first time in 24 years, and we were even working together on the same campus with our vastly different personalities.

The transition brought wave after wave of change and unknowns. Many times, it was too much for me to handle during those seven years. There was much pain, crying, and clinging to God.

Change is the key impetus to growth. We see it in nature from season to season and in our children as they try new activities and mature in their bodies and minds. We all would say we want to grow, just not go through any pain, which goes hand-in-hand with change. Can’t growth just be a snap outcome from cognitively embracing new, more Christlike concepts? 

Apparently not in God’s sovereign plans. He uses our weak muscles, undeveloped understandings, and resistance to change to bring about growth. We can’t rely on ourselves because the new environment, new skills needed, and new people around us are beyond our scope of expertise. 

We need God and must let go of our feeble attempts to master the changes. This gives opportunities to highlight his ways, his strength, and his greatness in a wonderful, fearful contrast.

Amidst my pain, there was growth from the inside out as I saw God teach, correct, encourage, heal, and lead me forward through the fuzzy transition into new confidence in his love and care for me. 

Closing Prayer
Father God, We are slow to understand and embrace your loving ways to bring change into our comfortable world in order to help us grow. Thank you for not leaving us as immature children even if we plead for ease and safety. Take us into the transitions where we can find you in new, amazing ways. Your love and faithfulness will see us through the pain into the character growth we really want. We bless you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Book: Making Peace with Change: Navigating Life’s Messy Transitions with Honest and Grace by Gina Brenna Butz The author is an experienced cross-cultural worker and writes with transparency and Biblical wisdom in the various transitions and challenges of global living.
Book: Unveiled Truth: Lessons I Learned Leading the International School of Kabul by Gail Goolsby Each chapter details change, often pain, and always new learning, with questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to reflect on her own journey.
Song: From the Inside Out by Kristian Stanfill This was a theme in my recovery and lesson learning from the pain of Afghanistan growth.
Question for Reflection

What transition has caused you the most pain and growth? How can you reflect on this truth and use it in a current challenge?

Gail Goolsby
July 30, 2021

My transitions to and from Afghanistan were deeply impacting chapters of my life. I accessed seasoned counselors and debriefing teams to help me learn the lessons from the pain for a couple of re-entry years. It took time and effort but was absolutely worth it, and an essential entry to my next level of maturity in Christ. I took my deeper trust in God to move into current unknowns of my own counseling/coaching business and the mysterious writing world. More pain and more growth!

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