Squeezing Lemons: When Help Isn’t Helpful for Everyone

26 May

Squeezing LemonsThe other morning my tween daughter came downstairs to report her difficult time getting to sleep the night before. She had recently sold her daybed to make her bedroom more of a study/hangout pad. Knowing my husband was in the middle of creating what is currently transitioning from a fictitious to real full-size loft bed for my oldest son, she figured that eventually his woodworking gift would benefit her as well, so she settled into decorating the top bunk of my younger son’s room to be more chickie-like, assuming the room-share situation would be tolerable in the short term.

As it turned out, she was wrong.

My youngest son (who struggles to turn his mind off at night) had recently started listening to a relaxation CD. (I had listened to it first to make sure it wasn’t sending him subliminal messages to eat cookies in the middle of the night, find inner peace in his belly button, or pretend he could fly like a superhero. Thankfully, it had passed my test.)

What I wasn’t thinking about on my dry run with the CD was what such a “tense-it-up-now-relax-it” storyline would do to someone without anxiety.

Yeah, I didn’t think about that at all.

As I set out breakfast, my angst-ridden daughter vented about her experience with the CD, up-bunk the night before from my son who was getting his calm on—

—and it wasn’t pretty.

“Mom, I tried to drift off to sleep, and the relaxation lady kept telling me (rough paraphrase):

‘Picture lemonade and the cool, soothing refreshment of that. Now squeeze your hands really tight like you are squeezing lemons to make the lemonade. Ready? Tighten those hands. Now S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E!’

Mom, she was stressing me out! I don’t want to squeeze the lemons, okay?! I’m all set with that! I just want to sleep!”

My daughter is so much like me when she has Mount Vesuvius-like emotions rising up and erupting all over the floor that I did what any compassionate mother would do when hearing this story of sleep deprivation and frustration:

I doubled over and laughed until I cried. I’m not sure my middle child appreciated my stop at Humor Station, but I simply couldn’t help myself. The train pulled up, and I was already in full guffaw.

It struck me as so profound that what helped one child’s anxiety caused anxiety in another.

Not every solution is for everyone. Sometimes we should not be squeezing lemons.

And sometimes people are screaming at us to squeeze them—insistent they have the right wisdom to impart—but squeezing lemons isn’t what God is asking of us in that moment.

Know the feeling?

A few years ago, a woman I knew was expressing nonstop angst about an activity we both shared. I kept telling her to hang in there and squeeze lemons. She ended up not taking my advice and getting out of a toxic situation before my own eyes saw it for what it really was. She may not have been right about everything, but she had wisdom I didn’t have at the time.

She knew she wasn’t supposed to squeeze lemons and saved herself a lot of heartache. I later learned the lesson myself.

We often assume our wisdom is a prophetic word for someone else. Sometimes it is. But often it is not. Are we mindful of this when we offer counsel?

I recently wrestled with questions about the best way to school one of my children. In an effort to make a well-informed decision, I sought the opinions and experiences of folks who were educating their children in ways different than my own choice. None of them said to me: “You must do it this way because your way isn’t working,” even though, in some ways, it wasn’t always working. In the end, I chose not to make a change this year, but I was so thankful for the ability to bounce the possibilities around with people I trusted.

But what about those who take our vulnerability and force their opinions on us? What about when we do that to others?

The book of Job in the Old Testament is a hard one to read because in the middle of Job’s suffering, his friends offer some lengthy and often inaccurate advice. Were they wrong in all ways? Did they have good intentions?

I’m not sure it matters, really.

Let’s take a look at how God responded to what Job expresses after the fact:

Job 42:1-7, ESV, anonymously written

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

You see, the Lord knew what was ahead. He knew He was going to restore to Job beyond what had been lost, and He didn’t appreciate the friends spreading untruth about Himself to Job. He took that pretty seriously.

The counsel of trusted friends is valuable, but are we to receive every piece of advice out there indiscriminately? No. We are to trust God Who promises to fill our mouth with what to say and instruct us in the way we should go.

I am the Lord your God, who brought youOh yes, Lord, fill it. Please fill it. Your words are so much better than mine.

Psalm 32:8, ESV, Psalm of David

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Whether you offer or need advice, God is faithful to show you what to do with those lemons:

Squeeze away or set them down for someone else.

His answers are personal to you because He loves you that much.

Go ahead: Ask Him!

Squeezing Lemons-When Help Isn't Helpful for Everyone

*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.

**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin TuesdayWomen With Intention WednesdaysGrace & TruthA Little R & RRaRa Link-Up, Dance With Jesus, Blessing CountersCoffee & ConversationSaturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).


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14 responses to “Squeezing Lemons: When Help Isn’t Helpful for Everyone

  1. aladyinfrance

    May 26, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    That’s really interesting! Great analogy – not just the lemons, but the anxiety solution applied to a non-anxiety person. It really makes you understand that not everyone should get the same solutions.


  2. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    May 26, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks, ALadyinFrance! It was a surprise to me to hear her express that as well. I had to stop and think about how true that is about a lot of things. Thanks for coming by “Espressos of Faith”! Blessings!


  3. Sharon

    May 26, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    OK, I’m sorry, but I also laughed. Not AT your daughter per se, but at the irony of the situation. Love the lesson you drew out of it. Your words of wisdom resonate with me. Our words are powerful weapons, and we must be oh-so-careful how and when and why we use them. The Holy Spirit is truly the only one with wisdom enough to manage the mighty tongue! Praying for discernment…


    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 26, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Sharon, I’m so glad you laughed. Thanks for coming by #EspressosofFaith! I need to remember to keep my own mouth shut when what sounds like wisdom didn’t go through His filter yet. Blessings!


  4. ginabad

    May 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Beautiful post! I have “The Friend Who is Never Wrong, Except that She Always is for My situation” and “The Friend who ACTUALLY is never wrong who counseled me incorrectly a few times.” All that means is go ahead, collect advice from those you trust, but in the end, trust the Lord’s guidance ONLY. And yes, at times it can even come from a misguided friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Oh man, Gina….are these blog posts or just scenarios? I need to go read about that. Thanks for relating to this. Your comments made me laugh. Blessings!


  5. Kelsey Ferguson

    May 26, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    I love this! And I will admit that I laughed at loud at your daughter’s predicament. It reminded me of when I moved home for a month after college, and I shared a room with my 14-year-old brother. Apparently having your 22-year-old sister bunking with you is not cool when your a freshman in high school. Good times! But back on topic. I love the message here. Sometimes I get frustrated when I see someone thriving in a certain situation that I can’t make work. It’s a good reminder for me that what’s helpful for one person, stresses another person out. And what God has planned for me, might not be what he has in store for my friends, too. Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 26, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      Kelsey, I’m laughing at your room-sharing story since my freshman-in-high-school son is not pleased to ever share the room with any younger sibling. LOL I like your take on it….I hadn’t thought about it exactly from that angle…that some people prosper with something that isn’t necessarily for us. Interesting. Noodling that one over. Good thoughts! Thanks for sharing at #EspressosofFaith!


  6. Winter

    May 27, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I had to laugh at this! It reminded me of church camp in junior high and the cabin mom played a CD of crickets, none of us girls got any sleep either! You have caused think about the help/advice I offer to others. Stopping by from a little R&R.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 27, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Winter…thanks so much for your comments! I’m glad it gave you a giggle! I look forward to finding you at #ALittleRnR!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. rmclellan1949

    May 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Loved your post in that it reminded me that we all are different and God deals with us all at our level. The lemon story is great. I know I was told to squeeze a few lemons when all I wanted to do was close up the lemonade stand and go home. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from Counting My Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Oh yes, rmclellan….I’ve wanted to close up the lemonade stand to go home too…many times! I really appreciate you coming by and leaving your reflections. Here’s to not squeezing lemons when we’re not supposed to! 🙂 Blessings!


  8. Kristi Woods

    May 31, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Turning our eyes back to the One with the true direction, the Lemonade Maker. So true, as that’s where our help comes from. Truly enjoyed your read today, Bonnie Lyn, and I hope your sweet daughter dove into sweet dreams the next night. Neighboring with you at Counting My Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      June 1, 2015 at 7:26 am

      Thank you, Kristi! I’m so glad you stopped by here at Espressos of Faith! It’s so good when we remember where advice should ultimately come from, isn’t it? The Lemonade Maker…love that! Blessings!



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