My sweet Italian grandmother was one of the best of people you could ever hope to meet! She was generous and caring almost to a fault. If you were shopping with her and you said: “I like that!” She would quickly say, “Do you want it? I will get it for you!” She was not wealthy or even well-off by any standards. She was just generous and loving!
However, she was also a little dangerous at times. She did not always know what was safe and often did things that scared all of us. For example, she once lined the bottom of the oven with foil to keep the oven clean when her dish cooked. What a fire that produced! We are so glad she was not harmed in any way from these actions!
The other night, my family was reminiscing and laughing about grandma. We got to talking about her little toaster oven that she loved to use. She would reheat food and enjoy it right out of the little thing! She was quite pleased with herself! Then she told us about the time she warmed up her burger from McDonald’s in her little toaster oven. She told us she placed the whole thing in the little oven, Styrofoam container and all. Imagine her surprise when she returned to check on her dinner and the burger was there, without the container. She could not figure out what happened to the container. She puzzled over it for a moment. Then, she did what anyone would do, right? She ate her hamburger. Grandma had no idea that the container literally melted around and over the hamburger. She was not concerned and ate the burger anyway. We laughed, but all of us were secretly grateful she was not injured in any way by the extra foam in her diet! Grandma just chuckled when we told her what probably happened. She just smiled when we warned her of the dangers of these kinds of things.
Well, this little conversation got me thinking about life and the challenges we all face. The older I get, the more I see that trials, opposition, difficulty, and stress are a part of each of our lives. We all face the heat–some of us seemingly more than others. Hard times–hot times come. How do we respond when the heat is turned on us? Do we melt away? Or do we stay strong? I often hear people say that we should be grateful for the hard times. They will then quickly pump their arm and say “They make you stronger!.” They offer this sentiment as some sort of encouragement. Frankly, it has not really helped me much. I have never felt better when someone says that I am getting stronger during the hard time. To me, I feel invalidated and a little degraded when this sentiment is offered. Isn’t there a better thing we can say?
When we are struggling to carry on and feel like we cannot make it another step or another day, it can be helpful to have perspective.
Hard times are hard! When the heat is on and we feel like we will melt away, it can be so hard to maintain hope and faith. When we are struggling to carry on and feel like we cannot make it another step or another day, it can be helpful to have perspective. Understanding trials and what they do for us can really be helpful. In my opinion, trials and hard times do not make us stronger. Trials and tests determine how strong we really are. If your life is like mine in any degree, it seems to have some good and peaceful times followed by some real challenges–some real heat. It is during this time that I see what I am really made of–how will I respond to the coming heat.
So, the next time you feel the heat of some challenge, perhaps you can take confidence that you have been prepared for this moment and the test is on. If you respond with faith and determination, doing your best, you will likely end up triumphant. If you continue to do the good things you have always done, you will rejoice in strength. For the test is not if you can weather a storm, but if you can stay strong and faithful while the storm rages.
I know for me, I want to respond with firm faith and confidence. I do not wish to melt under pressure. I want to be true. I have come to love the word “undaunted” and hope I can be worthy to be described as such someday! I am striving to never falter, never waiver, and never stop pursuing a good path. I want to be better. I know when the heat comes, I have the opportunity to see and even prove how much I have learned. Will I be true? I hope so!
So, when someone we love is facing the heat of a trial, perhaps we can offer love, encourage them to continue strong, and walk with them in any way we can. Perhaps, we can be more empathetic and acknowledge how hard it must be for them and express love, support, and confidence in them! That would help me hold up when the heat is on!
Grandma laughed off the heat of that moment for her. She kept going and did not let it stop her. Can we stand true and strong when the heat comes? I think so.
Shall we call this the parable of the Big Mac?