I’ve never quite fancied the phrase, “If life hands you lemons, make some lemonade.” I’m the kind of person that doesn’t want to make lemonade if I wasn’t planning on it, and I definitely wouldn’t want sour lemons if I were hoping for oranges.
In case you aren’t aware, this is a horrible way to live, as it is also a horrible way to let God be Lord of your life. I’ve expected a lot of oranges and whatnot lately, but I’ve received many lemons instead. Over time I’ve noticed myself having more anxiety, more often feeling discontent and frustrated, and inevitably trusting God less and less. To put it frankly, I became a bratty child of God who felt entitled to non-lemons.
Lemons come in the form of closed doors, unexpected “no’s,” unexpected problems, God’s silence, periods of waiting, and all those other things that happen that just don’t go your way or how you expected them to go.
When I want an orange and someone gives me a sour lemon that I didn’t want, all I want to do with that lemon is throw it at something or to turn it into an orange via wishful thinking or pestering God. The problem with that is that I only see the sour lemon as an obstacle to what I really want when I could look at it as an invitation…an invitation to have some nice, refreshing lemonade.
On the first night of Urbana I had a difficult time falling asleep. When I don’t get enough sleep, all sorts of problems occur–weakness, crankiness, inability to think coherently, talking slower, etc. I basically can’t function well within normal human behaviors, and I’m not a coffee drinker. Call me high maintenance with my need for sleep, because it’s true.
The first night I tossed and turned until 2am thinking about how I couldn’t sleep and praying that God would help me sleep. My “lemon” was my trouble falling asleep, and I wanted that sour lemon to turn into sweet, sweet, dreams full of oranges. Not really, but you get the picture. Finally after over 3 hours of asking God to turn my lemon into an orange by helping me fall asleep right away, I decided to change my prayer. Instead, I prayed, “Lord, you know what I need. I trust you to give me the rest that I need.”
That whole week, while I didn’t get the hours of sleep I would normally want, I’d wake up feeling refreshed, knowing that God was Lord of my sleep. There were a few mornings when I even woke up before my alarm (which went off at 6am!) and felt as though I’d gotten the sleep I needed.
I originally saw my sleeplessness as sour lemons, and I wanted oranges very badly. I finally surrendered to whatever God was inviting me into, which was to make lemonade by submitting to him giving me rest and ordaining my sleep. The Lord’s invitation for me was to trust that he knows how to take care of me better than I do. Normally I’d be frustrated, grumpy, complaining, and full of anxiety that I got so little sleep during such an important week like Urbana, but I was actually filled with joy knowing that God was caring for me, that I was moving to the rhythms of his grace for me, and that I was rooted and established in his love for me. I smiled so much during worship that week because I couldn’t help but think of how I was wrapped up in God’s love and grace.
I now find myself asking several times a day when something doesn’t work out and I encounter those little lemons, “What, instead, is the Lord inviting me into?”
To think…If I’d wasted my energy on wishful thinking for an orange, I would have missed out on that delicious lemonade.