When You Can’t Hold It Together

God, you know I hold my family together:

balancing the needs of everyone,

the schedules of everyone,

the health of everyone,

juggling each ball with dexterity

and not dropping one, not one.

I give thanks for strength and stamina.


But there’s a haunting sense

that I’ve reached my limits

and that even this camel’s back

will not take one straw more.

One morning will I stand on the road

and say, “I can’t do this”?

I am too afraid to even go there.


I have not let “can’t” be part of my vocabulary.

There are people who need me,

children who need me

and I would give my life for them.

I give my life for them.

I need more strength, more time, more energy

for the journey stretches before me.


Jesus, you walked a road in Jerusalem

carrying a heavy load

that you took up willingly,

knowing it was your burden to bear.

What happened when your body said “Can’t”

and you fell there on that dusty road?

Did you have the feeling of defeat I’m fearing?

Did you look on Simon from Cyrene

with despair or gratefulness?


Spirit, give me wisdom on my road

to know that you are with me when I can

and that you will be there with me

on the ground when I can’t.

When others have to carry for me

you will know that my spirit is willing,

but the flesh is only human.


God of the winding road,

God of the heavy load,

God of the time to pick things up

God of the time to lay things down,

be my God, now and always.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at carol@leadinginworship.com

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