Lemons to Lemonade

It occurred to me today that this old cliché has a pow of faith as its backbone. I’ve always thought of it as a “buck-up” sort of encouragement that allowed someone to overcome the emotional burden of an unpleasant situation but largely left an inescapable sense of defeatedness in not knowing how to actually do it. However, I realized there’s power in them words when you let the Holy Spirit be the sweetener that transforms your sour to delicious.

We all have some undesirable part of our personality or behavior that stems from a previous unpleasant event in our lives. Maybe an over-critical old boyfriend made you hyper-sensitive and too reactionary; maybe a neglectful father made you desperate and clingy. For me, I became hyper-observant as a result of the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. Here is a glimpse into my day living with this type of behavior. I hear the swirl of ice in my husband’s glass and immediately recognize he’s about to say something he’s uncomfortable with. I notice that a co-worker is in my (former) boss’s office at a time he is usually not there and directly understand he is quitting his job. I see the shift of a friend’s pinky finger and am instantaneously heart-broken that what was just said hurt her feelings. At the meeting of a new person, I am swiftly dissecting every lift of an eyebrow, bending of the lip, tilt of the head, shift in body, flex of the hand, bend of the knee, shuffle of a foot, so that I can seamlessly react to their response to my presence and adjust my behavior to assure their comfort around me.

Sound exhausting?

It is!

The amount of energy it takes to acquire, integrate, store, recall, and use this information pervasively throughout the day is astronomical. I go to bed at night emotionally drained and physically exhausted. It has been a huge burden to live with, particularly because I acquire a lot of information of inconsequential value. I don’t really need to know every time someone doesn’t like my shoes because I have an uncanny ability to see an instantaneous flick of the eye. I really don’t need to know every time someone is watching me from behind because I can sense the oppressive weight of their gaze. I really don’t need to know every time someone places judgment over me because I understand the difference in the edge of their lip being turned ever so slightly up or down.

Now take this behavior and drop it in a corporate setting where I would regularly engage with 100’s of people and be overrun with shifty, side-handed, corporate politics. Nightmare! Now that’s some lemons. How did I turn that to lemonade? The Lord a plan for me and I trusted Him to lead me there. He brought me into a blossoming of this otherwise highly intrusive behavior. He made me a writer.

What makes a compelling story? Being drawn into the characters. What does it take to be drawn into the characters? To experience their innermost thoughts and feelings through meticulous description of subtle behaviors that reveal the truth beneath the unspoken word. What does it take to be able to do this? An encyclopedia of knowledge on the subtlest of human behaviors to pull from. When I visualize a scene I am writing in my book, this disruptive hyper-observant behavior becomes my best friend. I close my eyes and observe every move of my character. I transcribe it to prose and when I read it back to myself, the scene comes to life.

I am spending my days enthusiastically writing for the Lord using a dysfunctional manifestation of a horrid childhood experience. There is nothing outside His control. You are experiencing some part of your persona that feels like an overwhelming burden resultant from an unfair or undeserved experience in your life. This is part of the Lord’s plan for you. Seek His guidance on how He intends you to use this for His glory. Allow Him to transform both your perception and your usage of this burden into a gift, your lemons to lemonade. He will not fail you.

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