Monday, June 22, 2015

Exit please

 I don’t want lemonade.

You know that saying when life gives you lemons make lemonade?

But what if you don’t want lemonade? Or the lemons for that matter.  I am a lime girl myself. Someone put a lime in a ginger ale once for me and thought I went to soda heaven.

Lemonade is fine I guess. But it’s not what I want.

I want out.

Let me explain so you don’t worry.

Ever been on a roller coaster or an amusement park ride and you sit down and hear the click and think… what in the world did I get myself into? You want out. Right then. 

You search frantically for an escape. You debate whether to call the person back that just put their hand down near your nether region and checked whatever flimsy contraption is keeping you locked in. By the time you crane your neck to get their attention it is too late. The hiss sounds and you are on your way.

And then you ride the ride, and sometimes it feels great and other times it’s terrible. And the funny thing is you never know which is which until it is done. 

Or it could be a ride that you say you survived and you are proud of your accomplishment but you kind wished you never rode it in the first place and you certainly don’t want to ride it again.

That is life sometimes isn’t it? You are not sure if something will work out until you ride the ride.

It could be great, or hard, or sad. Or both.

Riding a rollercoaster is a nice metaphor. It has a distinctive beginning, middle and end. And the worst that happens is a woozy stomach.

But what about this?

You are in pain. Something really hard happened and you want out. It is an emergency exit kind of out. The kind where you can’t sit still out. You are stuck. You are lost. Or sad. Or angry. Or brokenhearted. Or baffled. Or hurting.  Or helpless. Or lonely. Or depressed. Or anxious. Or… fill in the blank.

And you don’t know how it is going to end. You want to have hope. You want to drink a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. But you are not sure you can stomach it.

Or to put it another way.

What happens when life doesn’t hand you lemons it chucks them at your face? And not just one, but repeatedly, chucks them in your face.

And we are supposed to make lemonade?

I know people who say everything happens for a reason.  What I think they really mean is that sometimes bad things happen and we don’t know why but we sure hope it is for a good purpose or at least something good can come from it.


But what happens before the something happens?

What happens in these moments?

When you wake up in the morning and immediately feel that pain come rushing over you. And you think to yourself, oh my goodness, that wasn’t a dream. It happened. (Whatever “it” is and I think most of us have had our “its.”)

When your goal becomes make it through the day.

When you swing through emotions so fast you can’t tell which ones are real.

When you don’t know which direction you should go.

When well-intentioned people make it worse.

When you feel lonely, forgotten or abandoned.

When you want to do something to help and you can’t.

When you become paralyzed by fear because you wonder “what else can go wrong” and then you imagine what else can go wrong and you can’t stop the anxiety train.

When you realize what was is gone and now you have a new normal. 

When you are stalked by regret. 

When you just want an emergency exit.  Or a fast forward button.  Or a rewind.

What do you do?

No seriously, I am asking. What do you do?

Words that come to my mind are: Pray. Hope. Lean on friends. One day at a time. Hang on. Believe. Love. Cry. Bleed. Cry some more. Love some more. Trust. Rest. Breathe in and Breathe out.


Oh, that last one.

Waiting can look like gripping the sides of a ride you never wanted to go on in the first place. To make lemonade is simple and hard. Keep holding on.

Waiting can also be sitting alone in the dark. 

Stop. Let me try to put a little lemonade in that last one.

My old pastor years ago gave me something to do while I was going through a difficult time. She told me, “Sit in a dark space. Light a candle. And sit there. Don’t do anything. Don’t say anything. You don’t even have to think of anything just sit there.”

That advice stuck with me. I can’t remember if I actually did it. But I am thinking it might be appealing right now. Light up the darkness. Slice that lemon. Smell the citrus.


Sometimes we get the emergency exit. Sometimes the ride stops in the middle and we get to get off. Sometimes we have to ride the whole thing.

And yes, sometimes the ride is one of the best things to ever happen to us.

So, in this place of waiting.

In this place of trusting.

In this place where my prayer is a song lyric that goes “ Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind.”

I grit my teeth, hold out my hand and whisper:

“Pass me a glass."

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