I can hear my grandmother’s voice saying, “Turn up the heat and see what boils out!” None of us like pressure.
None of us enjoy being stressed.
None of us “sign up for” difficult times.
Yet life is full of difficult times. It’s just the way it is. I use to get so aggravated at my mother for responding to my self-pitying tears and hiccup-sobbing announcement that “It’s not FAIR” with, “Denise… life is NOT fair“.
Life isn’t. Bad things happen to good people. Wonderful people suffer. Terrific human beings have their hearts broken.
Sucks, don’t it?
How a Pressure Cooker Works
I don’t know of very many people who own a pressure cooker. I don’t use one. I had a grandmother who used one fairly frequently, however. Why use a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers essentially do two things.
- Raises the boiling point from about 212° to 250°.
- Raises the pressure inside the pot and forces moisture into the food.
Using the pressure cooker as a great analogy for LIFE, it helps us deal with higher temperatures, and keeps us from DRYING OUT. That’s right. When you are forced to deal with stress and pressures, you actually work out your “dealing with it” muscles and make it easier to handle the next burden. This is especially true if you are dealing with it often enough that you’ve developed good habits. New good habits include:
- Taking it to God and recognizing that “He’s got this”.
- Learning to ask for help from trusted friends.
- Learning to pace yourself; taking the time to rest when needed.
- Looking for the GOOD in a very BAD DAY.
- Burning your “Blame Game” after recognizing it is no one’s FAULT.
Showing off your “BIG REVEAL”
That’s right. After the burner is turned down and the pressure is OFF, we lift the lid and take our bows. The big reveal.
My former pastor from North Carolina reminded me however, that the “reveal” is often long before we lift that lid.
“The true test of character is not just seen in your actions but your reactions. We often like to excuse our inappropriate behavior by saying, “I’m sorry I was just under a lot of pressure.” But it’s the pressure that often reveals what’s on the inside and what we’re really like!” (Pastor Jake Thornhill)
While we are blowing off steam, we are also revealing to all who watch, who we really are. I have a dear friend who recently lost her young adult daughter in a car accident. As a person of faith, she knows she will see her daughter again one day. Yet, she has been very “real” in blowing off some steam. She is hurting. She misses her daughter. Her faith is strong. She’s dealing with it. However, I repeat: She is hurting. She misses her daughter. It is a poignant reminder to me that the very best people need our love, support, and prayers. Bad things DO happen to good people.
People who live with chronic illness, invisible conditions, or disabilities have good days and bad days. There will be days that you handle “your normal” in a positive, healthy way. There will also be days that you need to go back to bed and zip your lips because everything spewing out is pretty ugly. Not everyone is going to understand that. (Even some folks close to you won’t understand). Want to know some “ol’ sayings” that get on my very last nerve?
“What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”
“Shine – don’t whine!”
“Be better, not bitter”
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”
If we take these oft-used encouragements too far in our attitude towards OTHERS who are going through tough times, we miss out on one of life’s biggest blessings. One of the quickest ways to alleviate someone else’s stress and pressures are simply to let them know you are there for them. Pray for them. Hug them. Tell them, “I care about you“. If you deliberately look away when life increases the temperature under someone’s pot and assume “this is good for them”, you miss the opportunity to be used in a special way. Throwing a chirpy little positivism at them will not help them. BEING there for them is what matters.
Love someone with significant challenges? You will learn what to SAY, and what NOT to say, to support your loved one best. Please allow me to mangle one more colloquial expression?
“A watched pot never boils”. Oh yes it does. You can stand there and watch the pressure gauge go up and Up and UP on a friend or loved one’s pressure cooker, and it’s going to boil. There is no escaping the heat. I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of friend who is there through the cooking process and present for the big “reveal”, for when the pressure is gone and the lid is lifted. That’s what friends do. That’s what support is.
©2015 Personal hearing Loss Journal