You know all those cutesy, positive sayings such as “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Well, when I hear those sayings, my reaction depends entirely on my mood and the drama in my life at the moment.
If it is a good day, I smile and think how wonderful it is to keep a positive attitude. If it is a bad day, I glare and find myself thinking…. “Hah—I don’t like lemonade. What a stupid and annoying thought that is” and other bla bla bla.
However, recently, I created a new saying—one of those “let’s be positive” type of sayings and I think it will become a permanent one in my life.
But first….. a short story.
As readers know, I have spent the last 10 months of my life turning my large “house” into a warm and loving home—this has involved buying furniture; renovating the screen porch; and other expensive repairs as well as hosting family gatherings and spending time with my grandchildren.
You know how one thing leads to another—well in this case, the decision to renovate the screen porch led to needing to rebuild the patio and while I was at it, why not just turn the entire back yard into a patio and get rid of the grass which would then expand the grandchildren’s play area as well as give me a greater space for outdoor entertaining.
I have visions of becoming THAT Woman—the single but still attractive divorcee who has regular dinner parties or brunches with an eclectic group of friends…. who laughs while holding her glass of wine and glides from room to room smiling and chatting with her friends.
It must be mentioned that I am choosing to ignore the fact I do not have an eclectic group of friends where I live (yet) and I am not someone who truly embraces cooking as a form of entertainment—I view it more of a challenge.
I do have the laughing part down and can hold a glass of wine in my hand… I would have to learn how to glide ……But who knows…..I have visions of this happening.
So, in the process of turning my back yard into this future social-happening place, I began working with a fabulous contractor. Since April, he has guided me through many projects. His sub-contractors are outstanding and hardworking and they slowly but surely began working their magic on my porch and backyard.
But one day….. a small issue arose. One of their tasks was to add French drains and extend the downspout drainpipes further out in the yard. In the process of doing this, they needed to end the drainpipe near the very tall hedge that borders my small but lovely backyard.
In their enthusiasm to dig a good trench, they cut back some of the hedge leaving me with a somewhat large hole near the bottom of the hedge.
I will confess that when I came home my first reaction to seeing the hole was AUGGHGHG. The hedge is such that there would be no branches growing back or, at least not any growing back in my lifetime.
So, when life gives you a hole in the hedge…… what do you do?
I pondered various solutions and finally came up with a plan. I would build a door—not a Hobbit Door as they have to be a round/circle shape (I know this as I have watched all The Lord of the Rings movies) but I would create a bunny/garden door and my talented contractor could then figure out how to fit the door in the hole.
The first step was to create a mock-up of the bunny/garden door. And, as always, cardboard is a girl’s best friend.
So, over the next week I made several trips to Home Depot and Hobby Lobby and other places and while working in my garage, I slowly started creating my masterpiece.
As I worked on this new project, I spent some time reflecting on the past 10 months. Last November I was engaged and living here with the man I loved and planning a new life. Then he abruptly ended the engagement and moved to Florida and here I am now by myself in my garage trying to stain and lay out pieces of wood to make a door for a hole in the hedge.
And there are times where I still think “What the Heck Happened? How did I get HERE?”
Those who know me well also know that my faith was challenged in all of this….. the “why God did you let this happen?” statements and so forth. The pat answers I would get from well-meaning friends–He has a plan (Really? I am thinking I do not like His Plan) and He knows everything that is going to happen (Really? Then maybe He ought to clue me in) and so forth.
But I recently read something that truly put it all together. I have found my new church home (St. David’s Episcopal) in Roswell. Their friendliness and warmth and spirit is speaking to me.
Their priest, Ken Swanson, wrote a book in 1987 about prayer and I decided to get a copy. Even though the book (Uncommon Prayer, Approaching Intimacy with God) is several decades old, the thoughts and comments are true today. I am slowly but surely slugging my way through this small book—there is much to absorb.
But there has been one statement that landed on me—as I like to say—It flew all over me—It was when Rev. Swanson wrote…..
“God is not in the business of changing our circumstances.
He is in the business of redeeming our circumstances.”
As I pondered that statement, I realized if we just want God to change our circumstances, we remain puppets—we remain passive.
But if He is to redeem them, then that action cries out for a partnership—He can’t redeem my circumstance if I do not choose to let Him do it.
I have to accept what has occurred and look for ways to express the love He offered us through Christ. God may redeem my circumstance but only if I am willing to be actively engaged in His redemption process.
He cannot make something better if I sit passively and wallow in self-pity or anger or misery.
I have friends who struggle with issues much greater than a hole in a hedge—illnesses; death of family members or friends; financial hardships; and all of that begs the question of “why does a good God let bad things happen.” I would not insult anyone by ever giving them a pat answer.
But this I know …and I know with deeper surety each day…. if you choose to work with God/Christ/Holy Spirit… they can redeem the pain…..they can redeem your circumstance. It may never “justify” what you have felt or gone through…..but your pain or problem does not have to defeat you.
And today, as I am nearing completion of all my renovations, I sometimes sit (by myself) on my patio— holding my glass of wine and, while I am not laughing, I am quietly smiling on the inside….. and I realize I have come up with my own personal “when life gives you lemons” statement—but mine goes like this……
“When life gives you a hole in the hedge….you build a door”.
You replace the darkness—you replace the hole in your life with something of substance or something of beauty—you build a door that can open and take you down a different path—and while building that door, you allow God to work with you to redeem the situation.
And in doing so, you will find joy again.