When life hands you a lemon

Bitterness: 1. Resentment. 2. A feeling of deep and bitter anger or ill-will. 3. Having a taste that is sharp, acrid, and unpleasant.

Get rid of all bitterness, (rage, indignation, anger and resentment)… (Ephesians 4:31)

I was thinking about bitterness today and thinking back over my recent season of disappointment and discouragement and I wondered, did I become bitter?

Was I full of resentment and anger? Towards Tim? Towards God?

I honestly don’t think I was.

I was hurt. I was disappointed. I was upset. I was discouraged. I was confused. I was worried. But I don’t believe I had allowed myself to become bitter.

I think of that old saying, used in many sermon illustrations: “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!”

If you Google this quote, here are some other suggestions for what to do with the lemons you’ve been handed.

  • Sell them on Ebay!
  • Just shut up and eat the lemons!
  • Make apple juice and confuse people (No, I didn’t understand that one either!)
  • Keep them, because, hey, everyone love’s free stuff!
  • And, for all my Southern girlfriends, squeeze them into sweet tea and thank God you’re a southern girl!

I personally don’t like lemons and I don’t know anyone (ok, other than my 13 year old son Zach) who would willingly cut a lemon in half and suck on it! Lemons are sour. They are bitter. They are acidic.

I also don’t know anyone who would willingly squeeze lemons and drink a whole glass full of lemon juice.

I do know though, that if I add lots of sugar and some water, I will get yummy lemonade. And I like lemonade!

But here’s the thing about lemonade…all that added sugar simply masks the fact that I’m still eating lemons.

When I sugar-coat something, I am just making it superficially more palatable. And I don’t want superficial. I want to be real.

Bitterness could have taken root in my heart when “life” handed me lemons, but I didn’t let it.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I never became bitter during our difficult season is that I didn’t mask my feelings and emotions and sugar-coat them. I was honest about how difficult the circumstances were. I was honest about how tough life was. I was honest about how hard things were. I was honest about my relationship with God. I was real.  And rather than just keep adding more and more sugar to my lemons, I handed them back to God and said “No thanks, I don’t want them! Can you take them for me please?!”

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