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When Life gives you Lemons: A lesson from a glass of Lemonade

My heart stopped pounding and mellowed out at the words, "Please know that we are indeed grateful for your work, but we have no positions open at the moment." This was it: the moment of truth. The truth was, I didn't make it. The truth was, even though I had worked hard and done what I could, in the end, this job wasn't in the plan.

The tears didn't come initially. In fact, my first thought was honestly, "Ok. Well, that didn't work out. Just gotta think of a new plan! Hopefully, Jake will get his position, and that will work out better anyways." No, those tears didn't come until about an hour or so later, when the negativity started to fill my head.

You aren't good enough.
You suck. 
All those hours of preparation, and this is what you get?
You failed.

Those thoughts filled my head for the rest of the day into the next, while I was preparing to go to work for a job that in the end, I wouldn't have in about a month. Those words seemed to gnaw at my soul, filling my mind with the familiar dark cloud of insecurities and negativity, leading into the equally familiar colossal ride of anxiety, zooming me up and down, spiraling me out of control until my body fell into zombie-mode, leading me into complete exhaustion, then depression and lethargic apathy. 

This was me from Monday through Friday. 

Except when people asked the million dollar question, "How are you doing?", they were welcomed with the million and one dollar answer...
I'm fine! 
As if perhaps, if I could lie to them, maybe I could lie to myself, too. Or maybe somehow convince my brain that I was ok, and that life was fine. 

On one of those mornings, while I was throwing myself a pity party (population: 1- me. No one else was invited), preparing to go to work, I walked into the kitchen to find my husband making me some strawberry lemonade to take to work. "For you," he said, handing it to me. "Love you! Make today awesome!" 
That was the last thing that I wanted to do, but I took the lemonade, said good-bye, and headed out the door. As I was driving to work, I looked at the homemade lemonade, and out of the blue, that famous saying came into my head:

When life gives you lemons, Jens, make lemonade. 

"Ha. Ha. Ha." I said out loud to myself. "Very funny. I get it. I should be grateful and happy."

No. You just need to make lemonade. 

I didn't want to "make lemonade." I wanted to throw myself my pity party, and cry, and think about the future and wonder what the heck I should do with my life now that it threw one of its all-too-famous curve balls at my face.

But those thoughts came again.

Don't you know by now? Life will always give you lemons. Sometimes those lemons will be sweet and delicious, and it won't require you to do much. Sometimes, though, those lemons may be a little sour. It doesn't matter. You still get to make the lemonade. You're the lemonade maker. Are you going to make the lemonade delicious and good, or let it be bitter and sour? The choice is yours.  


Life happens. Good things happen. Upsetting and even bad things happen. But it's not the situation that define you. It's not the trial that determines that "you suck," "you worked for nothing," or that "you're a failure."
What really determines this is how YOU view yourself, and how YOU handle what life hands over to you. Interestingly, when life hands you "sweet lemonades" on a silver platter, garnished with extra sugar and even cold ice, figuratively speaking, sometimes we take it for granted. Sometimes, we forget how great we have it.
But when life hands you bitter lemons, you have to decide to make it sweet. And that can be hard. It can be hard to enjoy life when you're missing your mom, your dad, and your younger brothers. It's hard to enjoy it when you don't get that job, when financial troubles are stressing you out, when you feel alone, or when you feel like you aren't getting that answer to a prayer. It's hard when somebody hurts you, or when you feel like you have been destroyed, brought so low that you don't feel like there is anyway you can get back up.

Believe me, I get it.

I've come to learn in my life, that it is during those moments that you are being led the most. I've made a goal to change the way I look at those moments. I'm starting to learn to say in my prayers, not "Why isn't this working," or "Aren't you listening?" but rather, "This didn't work out, and I'm going to have faith that that is because thou hast something better in store for me."

I've learned to ask, "If there is a better decision, please make it clear to me."

I hope to one day be able to say, "Thy will be done."

I'm not perfect. I still have bad days. I'm not sure if most people realize this. People sometime tell me that I'm incredible, that I'm an inspiration to be able to be happy and move forward when life gave me what in my mind was the worse thing it could have possibly given.
But I'm still human.

I still cry when I miss them. I still experience moments of anger. I still become irritated, or am not pleasant to be around. There are days when I need to leave my home to go for a drive to make sure that I don't take that anger out on my husband or anyone else around me.

And that's how life might be for me for the rest of my existence. I may not ever FULLY "get over it." And that's ok with me. I don't WANT to "get over it."
But I DO want to become stronger.
I want to be in control of my life and my emotions.
I want to make my lemonade sweet.

I have been through a lot, and so have many people that I love and cherish.
But those moments DO NOT define ME.
And those moments DO NOT define YOU.

Whatever it is that you have gone through, what you are going through, or what you will go through CANNOT define you UNLESS YOU ALLOW IT.

YOU make the decisions.
YOU make life good.
YOU make life happy.

Never forget the power that was given within you to overcome hard things.

When life gives you lemons, how sweet is your lemonade?


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