Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Make Lemonade?

"If [When] life gives you lemons, don't settle for simply making lemonade--
make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand."
~Elizabeth Gilbert

We all know the old saying, 'when life gives you lemons make lemonade', right?  I'm hear to tell how it's done.

Life gives us lots and lots and lots of lemons.  Those bitter-sour moments of painful alertness that challenge our mood and our sanity.  Those trying times that in retrospect are sometimes humorous and sometimes even more painful.  There are times in my life where the stream of incoming lemon bombs is never-ending and exhausting.  For example, after months of being financially up the creak without a paddle, we are finally gaining some ground and then-LEMON BOMB-my husband got a flat, totally-irreparable tire on his way to work today... which will, without a doubt, rip our recently required paddles from our fists.  Thankfully, my take on lemons and my knowledge of lemonade-making has evolved over the years.

For starters, did you know that lemons are a superfood?  I'm sure you all know they were used to fight scurvy in the 1800's.  Did you also know that citric acid (in lemons) helps fight bacterial and viral infections and also binds metal ions, thus curing heavy metal poisoning?  Vitamin C helps with healing, fights off tumors and aids with inflammatory diseases... it's also great for allergies and asthma.  Bioflavonoids strengthen blood vessels and promote eye health.  

Furthermore, lemons (externally) can be used as an astringent, great for rubbing on sunburns or swishing around if you have a sore throat.  Their juice is a great natural cleanser for soap scum in the shower and mildew and mold.  It can be used to clean copper pots and pans, to clean glass without streaks and when added with olive oil it makes your wood shine.  Also add the juice to your whites and hang them out in the sun to dry and behold the natural bleaching power of lemons. My favorite: when added to sugar it is a great body scrub to slough off dead skin and leave your skin silky smooth.

The point is lemons are good for you!

So when did we start equating them with things that we deem bad for us, those pesky trials and challenges in life?  Maybe someone intelligent was subliminally teaching us something.  Either way just as scientists have proven over the years that lemons have tremendous benefits, experience has proven to me that trials are good for us too.

Wait.  What?  That's right.  I said it; trials are good for us.  Even Christ has said as much.

The Lord told Joseph Smith, "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." Doctrine and Covenants 122:8  Also in 2 Corinthians we read: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18  In the Book of Mormon Lehi tells his son Jacob, "Thou knowest the the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." 2 Nephi 2:2  

So what do we do, what's in our power to do, to make lemonade from our trials; to make them work to our benefit rather than our detriment?  

First, we accept them for what they are.  Abraham Lincoln once said, "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."  We can be angry about hard times, we can allow the bitterness to fill us up.  Or, we can choose to accept those lemons for what they are and make lemonade... or cake, or pie or sugar scrub for our elbows.

If we were to make lemonade, the next step would be to clean the lemons.  We have to wash off all the crud.  To let go of all the dirt and toxins.  To let go of the bits that are out of our control.  Other people have their agency; we cannot control them.  The world is beyond our jurisdiction too; we can't control the economic shifts, the nails in the road, or the wind that carries the allergens towards us that make us sick.  But we can let go of the illusion of control--the expectation that things should be otherwise.  Often, I have found myself in the false ideology that because I am God's daughter, my life shouldn't be so hard, that I should be living the life of a princess, the life of an heiress.  Oh wait... then I remember His Son, the Prince of Peace, and what his life was like.  "The Son of Man hath descended below them all.  Art thou greater than He?" Doctrine and Covenants 122:8

We've cleaned our lemons off, now we're on to juicing.  We squeeze out all the good in them, the pulp and the flesh and the nutritious waters within.  But though those juices are medicinal and good for our souls, they can still be quite bitter or sour, they can upset our stomachs if undiluted.  So we must dilute it.   With what?  Water, of course.  But not just any water, living water.  For, as the Savior said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst."  John 4   When we look to the Savior and keep an eternal perspective, the sting of life is less sharp.  Also other buffers/diluters that I have found most beneficial are genuine relationships with my family and dear friends. 

Next, we must add in a little sweetener and possibly some spices.  (Warm spice lemonade is excellent on a cold winter's night.)  Elder Joseph B Wirthlin said, "Come what may and love it."  And I think learning to love life and laugh brings the sweetest moments.  Elder Wirthlin also gave a great talk about the Principle of Compensation, and how the Lord through His Atonement became the Great Compensator.  That all our wrongs will be righted, all the gaps will be filled, all that is lost will be found, all that is taken will be restored.  Don't worry about a thing... every little thing's gonna be alright.  Seriously.  Take up a hobby, learn something new, do what brings joy into your life.  And don't let guilt override or derail you from having a little fun.

Lastly, we must engage in mixing.  Mix all those things together, meld them into one.  We must stir and, from time to time, re-stir our lemonade to keep it fresh.  We have to keep engaging with the elements of the mixture to keep them  working together for our benefit and enjoyment.  We must keep doing those things that will allow us to have the right perspective in our trials.  And then we must partake of the goodness that the Lord provides.

So the next time trials come your way, drink it up.  Be refreshed and renewed by what you have created with your lemons.

My absolute favorite lemon treat :)  

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