What To Do When Life Dumps Lemons All Over Your Head

We’ve all heard the old saying that goes, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Now there’s a thought. We surely have to do something with the lemons as they come along.

Sucking on lemons takes the enamel right off your teeth, so we don’t want to do that. Letting them stack up is even worse because they rot, and there’s probably nothing worse than a life of oozy, rotten lemons we haven’t properly dealt with. And it’s not like we can hand life’s lemons off to anybody else. No, these are suck-it-up and deal-with-it lemons.

As much as we wish it weren’t so, the fact that life can hand out lemons with abandon intensifies the problem of dealing with them. That’s not really news. That’s just a fact. What we need to discuss is how in the world we handle the regular arrival of all those lemons.

Well, as the saying suggests, we can make lemonade. To make lemonade, we need sugar. Likewise, in the midst of a trial, we need to recognize that the stack of lemons taunting us isn’t the whole story. There’s always sugar around somewhere, those graces of life that pull us through. We’ll miss the sugar, though, if we focus too tightly on the lemons.

Okay, so we pulled in some sugar. Now we can make lemonade. Then what?

There appears to be an age limit on lemonade stand entrepreneurs. We might sell the local paper on running an article on the world’s oldest living lemonade vendor. On hearing of our dump-truck load of lemons, people might show up to encourage us and tell their lemon stories–hopefully only the ones with happy endings. Our picture in the paper might be nice, and we could become a one-day wonder, but from start to finish, we’re stuck focusing on the lemons. Lemonade has its limits. It doesn’t have the power to overcome.

What else can we do with these lemons–which, by the way, are starting to get a little soft by now? We can break out the cookbooks and create a dessert worthy of royalty–or at least a blue ribbon at the county fair. Make it gorgeous. Make it fluffy. Smother it with whipped cream. Dash a handful of chocolate sprinkles across the top. Top it off with the world’s largest maraschino cherry. Don’t hold back. Make it fabulous.

Then take it to a friend or neighbor who’s going through a bad stretch. We use up our lemons. We get to be button-popping proud of our stupendous confection. But most of all, we get to cheer up somebody we care about. Our effort says “You matter.”

If our creation is gorgeous, we’ll impress the tar out of our friend. If it’s lopsided, we’ll laugh our heads off. Laughter is the elixir of anti-lemon antidotes. Which fact, come to think of it, means lopsided is probably better.

We turn our lemons into love. We get to learn we don’t have to be perfect to be kind. And we get our minds off ourselves. Good, eh?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It sounds more pollyanna than real. Well, sounds can be deceiving. This is real, my friend. Turning lemons into love works. In the long run, it’s really the only thing that does.

© Copyright 2007 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved.