We’ve all heard the saying: “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”. I think it’s pretty cute and all, but it’s one thing to say something and another thing to actually turn it into reality. “Making lemonade” literally is pretty simple. Get some water, toss in some sugar, squeeze in some fresh lemons and there you go – you got yourself some lemonade.
But what about when it comes to REAL life? When troubles come your way and you don’t know how to deal with them? When things unexpectedly come into your life and you have no step-by-step instructions of what to do next… “how do you make lemonade” then?
I wish I had the answer for that one… but unfortunately I don’t.
Recently I was reading a book (Shaken But Not Shattered by Matthew Hagee) and in it he shared a story about meeting an exceptionally joyful man on an airplane who lived through the holocaust and this is what the man told him:
“In spite of the freedoms and liberties that I lost as a child, and with everything the horror of the Holocaust took from me, the one thing that was mine, and mine alone, every minute of every hour of every day, was the freedom to choose my attitude. The Nazis could do to me physically whatever they pleased, but they could not tell me how to respond emotionally. And in spite of the nightmare I lived through, I chose to live through it with the attitude of joy” – Because he chose to be joyful, Sol Weinglas lived his life filled with a miraculous and genuine compassion for others and a love for humanity when he had every reason and excuse to behave otherwise.”
This man wasn’t “given” lemons one day out of the blue. He was given lemons every day for many years from the moment he was a small child. And yet through it all he chose to be joyful.
He chose to allow his experience to help him be compassionate toward others who also had many “lemons” given to them in life.
He chose to not succumb to the nightmare he lived through and let it taint the rest of his life negatively.
And he is not the only one.
When I think about people who were given lemons in life and ended up “making lemonade” out of them… a few come to mind.
There is Nick Vujicic. A young man who was born without limbs. He grew up struggling mentally, physically, and emotionally with his disorder. Kids made fun of him at school for being different. He knew about God but he had a hard time believing that a loving God would allow him to be born in such a way that limited him physically. He didn’t understand the purpose for his existence. And one day when he was ten years old he felt like he had enough of it all so he attempted to commit suicide by drowning himself in the bathtub.
But his story didn’t end there.
Nick was given lemons from the second he had the ability to breathe. And it took him a while but eventually he became a professional lemonade maker.
After praying to grow arms and legs (and not having it happen) he realized that he had a choice: he could live downhearted, negative, and depressed with his disability or he could rise above and choose to be joyful with the life God had given him, disability and all.
And not only could he be joyful for himself… he could show others that they could be joyful no matter what circumstances in life they found themselves in. After all, if HE could find joy in his situation… couldn’t anyone?
He started his own nonprofit organization “Life Without Limbs” and is now a motivational speaker who travels the world to let others know that they are not alone in their struggles and there is meaning and hope for their life no matter what they may be facing.
Now that’s what I call making lemonade out of lemons!
Every time I feel like life is tough I just pick up his book and it always reminds me… if he could stay positive in his situation, I surely can too.
Another person I think of is Kelle Hampton. You may have never heard of her because she is just an average mom living an average life. But that all changed one day when she unexpectedly gave birth to a child with down syndrome and then chose to share her story with the world.
What was supposed to be the happiest day of her life – giving birth to a new bundle of joy – ended up being one of the darkest, hardest days in her life.
A day where instead of beaming with joy that she brought another beautiful child into the world… she stayed up all night crying and not knowing how she’d face the road ahead of her.
Where she wished more than anything in the world she could re-live her day – and have it come with a new ending.
An ending where her daughter was a perfectly healthy baby girl.
An ending that would bring her happiness, not tears.
And although to her the ending didn’t seem like a good one it turned out to be not an ending, but rather a beginning of a new journey.
A journey where she chose to accept the challenge of raising a child with down syndrome, and do it joyfully.
A journey that she would not walk alone but would share with many others through her writing, photography, and life.
Instead of allowing this moment in her life to be seen as a setback in her story she saw it as an opportunity.
An opportunity to choose to have a good attitude in the midst of it all.
An opportunity to inspire others to do the same as she shared her life with them.
An opportunity to rise above her own negative feelings and thoughts and be the best mother to the precious daughter that God had given her.
On that particular day in her life Kelle was given lemons… and what did she do with them?
She made lemonade.
And it’s my goal in life to do the same with all the lemons that come my way.
Another person I think of is Joyce Meyer who was sexually abused by her father when she was growing up.
She didn’t allow her past to shape her future negatively but instead chose to make it the platform she would use to help encourage other people who were going through hurt, brokenness, and resentment in their lives from pain caused to them by others.
Her books and ministry focuses on inspiring others to embrace their life, choose to live it joyfully, and become who God intended them to be in Him.
Her story is a beautiful one just like the others. Why? Because she didn’t take the lemons in her life, put them in a basket, and allow them to direct the rest of her steps.
No, she turned them into lemonade.
Not only for herself, but also for the many others that she shared her story with.
In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen R. Covey states – “It is so much easier to blame other people or conditions for our own stagnant situation. But we are responsible – “response-able” to control our lives and to powerfully influence our circumstances. It is not what others do or even our own mistakes that hurt us most; it’s our response to those things.”
I remember reading this and thinking to myself “Oh no! I can’t blame my negative outlook on life on the people who may have hurt me in some way or another or in the less-than-perfect circumstances that I find myself in? The only person I have to blame for is myself? That’s not good!”
But this is the truth for Nick Vujicic, Kelle Hampton, Joyce Meyer, and so many others.
It’s also the truth for you and I.
Life has a way of giving us lemons when we least expect them, but it’s up to us to decide exactly what we will do with them.
We can choose to use the lemons in our life as an excuse to hold us back from who God called us to be.
OR we can choose to see them as an opportunity to respond differently.
To rise above.
To allow those lemons to be the stepping stones that will lead us to exactly where God wants to take us next.
When life gives you lemons you have two options: you can choose to allow them to keep you bitter and hopeless OR you can choose to make lemonade.
I don’t know about you, but lemonade sounds a lot better than sour lemons.
God can and will use those lemons in your life to create something beautiful out of them, but it’s up to you to allow Him to help you see that the lemons that come your way may be the exact tools that He will use to make something extraordinary out of you. 🙂
“And we know that in all things (including the lemons) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Now… shall we go and make some lemonade? 😉
Be blessed! Anna… ♥