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Monday, 12 September 2016

Lemonade Lifestyle

You have all heard the cliché, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Have you ever really thought about what it means or how it applies to your own life?
Life’s lemons – or curveballs or whatever metaphor you choose to describe unexpected downturns in life – are naturally souring to any disposition.  There are those who grab a slice of these lemons, bite down and hang on for dear life.  They don’t seem to notice the sourness of the lemon has puckered their lips nor God’s promises within their reach.  If they do, they refuse to take it and the lemon becomes their world.  
Others choose to look beyond the lemon.  They cut it up, examine it, and see what lessons might be learned – if any.  Then, using God’s promises, they make lemonade. The refreshing drink sooths their parched souls and comforts in situations where others might be soured.
Let me give you an example from my own life of living the “lemonade lifestyle”.  I was twenty-eight. He was only six. He was my world.  As a single mother, I strove to do right by my only son and give him a life better than the one I had.  I tried to keep his lemons from him and eat them myself. Life doesn’t work that way.  Everyone’s lemons are their own and only they can deal with them.
My son’s lemon came in the form of a tumor on his spine compressing his spinal cord between his shoulder blades.  Mine came in the form of wondering. Would my son live to see his next birthday? Would he continue to be the active healthy child he should be? Would he be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life?
Our circle of friends and family faced similar lemons.  Some bit into their lemons straight up and were left angry, bitter, and confused wrecks. They put on a facade of strength around my son and fell apart as soon as they were out of his sight.  Still others sprinkled only a little bit of God’s sweetness on their lemons through prayer – enough to take the edge off but not enough to bring refreshing comfort.
And then, there was me.  I added as much sweetness as was available and was refreshingly comforted.  I was at peace in God’s promises that, “‘I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). I trusted that there was purpose to my son’s suffering even if it was not immediately – or ever – visible.   
However, as pleasing and – mostly – stress-free as this lifestyle can be, a practitioner of this way of life must be wary of unexpected and unwarranted guilt. This negative emotion can pop up periodically during trying times and tempt one away from the promises of God.  
I mentioned earlier that I felt peace and comfort regarding what my son was going through because I trusted in God’s promises – especially Jeremiah 29:11. What I did not mention was how little comments from friends, family, and church members – meant to be comforting – led to moments of guilt. Comments such as “You must feel terrible” or “I can’t even imagine how hard this must be for you” had the opposite effect from what they were intended to have.  I began to feel like my Godly peace was wrong and question what type of mother I was.  I felt I must be a horrible parent for not breaking down into tears every five minutes but I persevered and kept my peace.  
The “Lemonade Lifestyle” may not be for everyone – as demonstrated previously – but it sure helped me through this and many other situations. The Bible is full of sweet promises made by God to his people. It is also full of people who lived a “lemonade lifestyle” to its fullest like Joseph and David.  The best biblical example of this mentality – other than Jesus – is that of Job who refused to surrender God’s promises even in the midst of loss. This reminds us that God doesn’t protect us from harm but he does promise to protect us in the midst of it. This comfort is seen over and over again in the Bible – the greatest love story ever written – and it is for you, for me, and for all of God’s creatures. The Bible is God’s lemonade stand and the drinks are free.

By Herta Neufeld
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


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