We all know that if we live long enough, trials in life will come knocking on our door! When a trial enters our life, it may change us forever. Well-meaning people rally around us attempting to be supportive and positive. They may make trite statements like, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
When I hear that, I what to shout back, “Have you tried it?” As a woman of wisdom, I guard my tongue. When they add the words “or make margaritas” to their already over-used advice, I think to myself, “Clearly, they have no idea.” In God alone I place my trust.
I am a woman who has had her share of both trials and well-wishers. I have learned that there is never a good time for a trial and nothing one says can make it go away. I do agree that a cool glass of lemonade sounds good on a hot summer day, and margaritas hit the spot occasionally. Sometimes we feel like a lemon tree has grown right in our backyard. It is on days like that trite words rarely help. I do understand that when bad things happen to good people, family and friends find themselves at a loss for words. Even I, the wordy woman, come up blank sometimes.
It is sad to say, however, that careless comments voiced to a person in a trial often hurt the person more than the crisis. Although unintentional, these arrows may hit the bull’s eye dead center, wounding the heart. The trial may become a vanishing memory, but the word wound may linger a lifetime. I have unfortunately sent an arrow or two in flight unaware of the damage caused when it hit the bull’s eye of one in a vulnerable state. I also have been the victim of being shot by friendly fire.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I tell my children that is why I wear an invisible make-believe bulletproof vest. It is also why I designed an imaginary invisible door between me (the driver) and the mouthy teenager seated in the front seat beside me. This invisible door prevents arrows from passing through, but only in my imagination. By announcing to my carpool offspring, “Quiet, or I will have to close my invisible door!” they were somehow able to muster up a teenage amount of self-control.
I am always amazed at how powerful words are. This protected my heart and kept my peace. The closer we are to a person, the deeper the wound is. If only more of us would commit to memory the cliché “Think before you speak,” I am convinced fewer arrows would be launched at another’s heart. Watching your words is a lifelong learning process. We know that we cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves with the Holy Spirit’s help. When in doubt pray for self-control.
Let the words of my mouth be acceptable, the thoughts of my heart before you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:15)
Hurting people hurt people. It is when we are down and out that words seem to do the greatest damage. Relationships can blossom or break over words. People can become bitter or better over their reactions to the words spoken to them. Some people try to keep a stiff upper lip and a hopeful heart. Some talk your ear off, some close down, and some come alive. Some learn from their trial and others proceed to go through the same trial over and over. Some trials are self-imposed and some are not of our own doing. Some are put on us from other’s mistakes and others we choose because of our bad choices.
When we didn’t choose that a lemon tree be planted in our backyard, we can choose what we will do with it. Which path will we choose: bitter or better? If life gives you lemons, do not peel them and take a bitter taste. Instead look at them carefully, and see what you can create out of that lemon. Your bitter trial may be a blessing in disguise. Don’t get bitter; get better! Remind yourself that this too shall pass. God alone can heal the hurting heart.
He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)
When you encounter someone who is drowning from the storms of life, kindly offer them a life raft in the form of a listening ear, a caring heart, and a hug. That may be all that they need. Love heals the wounds in the heart, so serve a heaping portion. Avoid serving them a plate full of unnecessary words or a bowl overflowing with unasked-for advice.
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7)
If they ask for a margarita, join them in the toast; just be careful not to get some salt in their wounds!
- Avoid isolation.
- Seek wise counsel.
- Read good books.
- Pamper yourself.
- Play positive Christian music.
- Watch funny movies or old movies that you loved as a child.
- Avoid people who are negative or controlling, or who give lots of unasked-for advice.
- Journal your thoughts.
- Spend time around young children.
- Eat right, exercise, and take time for quiet prayer.
- Sing out loud.
- Look at old family photos, slides, or DVDs.
- Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.
- Simplify your schedule.
- Learn to say no.
- Pray, knowing that God alone suffices.
Copyright 2019 Ellen Mongan