We’ve all heard those three little words so many times. I’m sure most of us have spoken them at least once.
I could never…
- …give up chocolate/coffee/sweets, etc!
- …become a missionary/preacher/preacher’s wife.
- …lose that much weight.
- …homeschool my children.
- …give up homeschooling.
- …teach or speak in front of people.
- …be qualified to do _______________.
- …go back to school.
- …move away from home.
- …live so far from my parents/children/grandchildren.
- …learn another language.
- …go on a mission trip.
Need I go on? If you didn’t see yourself on that list, I’m sure you could come up with at least one other statement that fits you. I know I’ve said several of those myself in my lifetime. Sometimes when we say, “I could never…” it seems to be such a simple and insignificant statement. But, deep inside us we know that it really isn’t simple. It really isn’t insignificant. It’s a big deal, and it would be a big deal to go through with whatever it is we are convinced we could never do.
A few years ago I began paying more attention to the I could never’s of other people. And, as I listened, I began to re-evaluate my own I could never’s. What I noticed was very interesting. I heard an unwillingness to try, both in the arguments of others and in my own. It required me to think about some of the things I claim I would never be able to do. Many of them are things I really want to do, but I’ve convinced myself I’d never be able.
- I could never really write anything people would want to read.
- I could never truly counsel or advise anyone.
- I could never truly be a woman of discipline.
- I could never be bold enough to take a real leadership position.
- I could never juggle the responsibilities of home and further my education.
- I could never hold my own in any sort of theological or academic forum.
- I could never live in one place for any extended period of time.
Then I started to think about the more basic, daily life things that often seem daunting. I could never truly be a good, godly wife. I could never effectively teach my children, much less raise them. I could never keep my house in any decent order or have productive days. I could never…
And those lists don’t even count the things I’d like to tell God I’d rather not do! There have been plenty of those, as well!
The more I contemplated my own I could never statements, the more a realization that hit me full force: When I say, “I could never…” I am essentially telling God that I am unwilling to have Him work through me in that way. I am telling Him what He can and cannot do through my life. It has nothing to do with my personal abilities. It has to do with my willingness to be used.
Suddenly, it became a big deal. Even more than that, it became a problem. It became stubbornness and even disobedience because of an unwillingness to surrender. I knew I had to stop saying, “I could never…”
When it comes down to it, giving up our I could never mentality means surrendering in willingness to do whatever He asks of us. Sometimes, thankfully, the surrendering is enough. God brings us to the point of willingness, like He did with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Then He shows us that He really has something completely different for us, something we might not have been ready or able to do without the test. Other times, though, He takes us all the way. The very thing we are fully convinced we could never do is the very thing He wants us to do.
Is it time to remove the I could nevers from your vocabulary? It’s not an easy thing – I can tell you that from personal experience. But, it’s a freeing thing. Because when we stop saying, “I could never…” we begin to see how much God always can!