One of my lemons got handed to me as a “wedding gift”. I got the stomach flu the day before my wedding. Let me repeat that…I got the stomach flu one day before MY WEDDING. It wasn’t pretty. Somehow, I survived the pictures, walked down the aisle, and said “I do,” all without throwing up on my dress.
All day, I couldn’t eat a single bite of wedding food, and used my last bit of energy to do the obligatory dance. The exhaustion and sickness lasted into the fourth day of our honeymoon. This may not have been a life-altering struggle, but I had to work through some intense disappointment. Despite it having turned out well (marrying the love of my life, having my family there, not actually dying of the flu), I still felt cheated. Like God wasn’t fair.
Another lemon arrived during our marriage.
I stared at the two faint lines that confirmed it: I was pregnant! Our dreams for a family were coming true! A mere few hours later, I started bleeding. Disappointment and fear settled over me like a thick cloud. The next few weeks consisted of multiple trips to the ER, ultrasound appointments, and numerous visits to my doctor’s office. The miscarriage finally happened around 10 weeks.
One week later, my doctor ordered another ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage and rule out infection. At this appointment, the technician informed me that there was still a baby in my uterus – and the baby was still alive! I had miscarried a twin.
My doctor called me later that day and explained about the large and growing hemorrhage in my uterus, and how it posed exceptional risk for the baby that was still alive. I was informed to proceed with “cautious optimism” as it was very likely I would lose this baby as well.
So we went to battle in prayer for our unborn child. The bleeding from the hemorrhage stopped around the 20 week mark, but the fear of losing my baby kept me prisoner long past the moment my son was born. I tried to avoid the fear and disappointment during the difficult pregnancy. I tried to choose joy, to be thankful for the life of my child. Although I was extremely grateful for my firstborn, I didn’t properly grieve the loss of the child I miscarried.
The taste of lemons was growing more sour…
I knew I had to do something to prevent the sourness from overtaking me. I needed to find a way to ‘make lemonade’. But how?
I turned to God, who offers us a way out of the stress and overwhelm we can feel so stuck in. It takes work and determination, (this won’t happen by accident) but it is possible to thrive again! It’s worth the effort and hard work it takes to find healing and freedom.
Here are some ways to turn lemons into lemonade, to find healing and freedom and to start thriving:
Acknowledge the struggle and admit that it sucks!! Don’t minimize your hardship and act like it’s ‘no big deal’. It is not spiritual to make light of our problems. We actually can receive a level of freedom by simply acknowledging the difficult emotions that come out of our struggles.
Minimizing or avoiding the problems will come back to bite you eventually. Trust me, after many years of minimizing my problems, they came back to bite me hard! Now my healing is more complicated (not impossible!) than if I had acknowledged the pain and processed the struggle earlier.
2. Bring it to Jesus
Once you’ve identified those difficult emotions and admitted to the struggle you’re facing, talk to Jesus about it. He’s not put off by our struggles or our emotions. He welcomes them! He knows us better than we even know ourselves. Jesus longs to draw near to us in our struggle. Whether we are sad, ashamed or angry, He wants to comfort us and even carry our burden so that we don’t have to. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” And 1 Peter 5:7 says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Did you get that? Give ALL your worries to God, not just the neat and tidy ones. I am so glad that God is not intimidated by our chaos or confusion. God LOVES you. Go ahead and tell Him what you’re feeling! Ask Him for His perspective on your situation. What does He see when He looks at your problem?
God created people to need people. We need people in our lives to experience joy and laughter with, and also to share our sorrows with. Talk to a trusted friend about your struggle. Be real about what’s going on, including the pain or sadness or anger you’re feeling. Share with your cell leader or ministry leader at church. Ask for prayer from your community! Walking with one another, praying for each other, and supporting through practical help are only a few of many blessings of having a godly community around you when life gets tough. Don’t try going it alone. It won’t be worth the added stress that isolation or loneliness can cause.
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Becky has been married to her best friend, Chris, for 12 years. They raise their 4 rowdy kids on a spacious hobby farm along with a herd of cows and a flock of chickens. She is mainly a stay at home mom, but also works from her home as an esthetician. Becky is an ‘Old Soul’ and enjoys history, swing/jazz music and almost anything vintage or antique. If drinking coffee and eating pizza can be considered hobbies, they would be at the top of her list, along with spending time laughing and hanging out with family and friends, reading good books, and watching musicals. She is passionate about knowing and loving Jesus more, as well as becoming a better wife and mom. She finds great delight in encouraging and walking with other women as they strive to do the same.