I just peeled my second mango in as many days with the peel ending up in one piece.
What I Used to Do
I’m 36 but that perfection is a first for me. I used to marvel at my dad’s deftly clearing any fruit of its clothing in one go. How the heck did he do that?
Here’s my usual method: Just push through the task as quickly as possible. It took too much concentration to keep the peel in one piece so I just hacked at it.
In the end: 20 (to 50) short pieces landing in the dustbin or compost heap (yes I do try to save the environment).
The Difference-Slowing Down
Today was a victory.
Why? Because I learned to slow down. At last.
My dad once made a comment about always being in a rush. I thought it was something to be proud of because it proved how busy I was. In truth? It was simply me being late, rushed, disorganised, stressed for no reason, avoiding situations (arriving late for a family gathering meant I may miss out on discussing a few tense topics.)
Let’s get back to my mango.
How He Did it
I found peeling a fruit challenging and an unnecessary bump in my road. Did I take the time to simply sit down and get used to that skill? No. Why?
Here’s one bad consequence of doing well at school: You don’t learn how to deal with challenges. Everything comes easy: Math, Languages, Remembering facts, Pleasing teachers, Winning the prize.
That doesn’t serve you so well later in life. Life is not that easy to handle.
For me: It took years to feel comfortable facing a challenge. (Even peeling a slippery fruit properly.)
I avoid conflict and challenges as much as I can. I realize I pray and then hope/expect God to simply make it easy. That’s MY perfect answer to prayers.
But He knows best.
This past year I learned a few different things. And my mango proves it.
I stress about everything.
Will I impress my boss?
Will this client be happy?
Does my leaving out the milk irritate my husband?
Will the dog be okay if I leave her alone for a few hours?
Is God disappointed in me that I don’t do everything He prompts me to?
Will my parents be proud of the life I live?
How will I deal with differences of opinion with loved ones?
Will I be able to handle the latest work project? I simply don’t think I’m good enough.
What if no one likes my writing?
I really should be more organised or get a healthy daily schedule…why am I so bad at this thing called life?
Many of these my fears relate to overcoming a challenge, something difficult:
- Learning a new skill
- Doing a lot of research
- Having complicated and tense discussions
- Living in faith
My Weak Point
I am so scared at failing at these, that I simply rush through life. I do what I can (that which I find easy) and kind of put the rest on the back burner. I know it’s possible to live in faith…I just do it in areas that are easier. I know I’m good at my job, but I avoid pushing myself to be better. Because that will be challenging.
What I end up with are 20 (or 50) small things I did every day…but I miss out on creating that beautiful long strip of colorful skin. It’s the accomplishment I really want, but I don’t face the fears that keep me from doing it.
For me it’s fear of failure. For others it could be hurt, past disappointments or not knowing Him well enough yet.
How He Fixed It
For the past 12 months I had to practice at peeling my mango in real life:
- Instead of changing jobs I had to learn to take my fears & insecurities to Him. And slowly but surely He transformed my mind about how I see myself. Now I can breeeeathe during the day: No longer flustered from 9 to 5 because I doubt every single task I do.
- Instead of giving me everything I wished for so I can believe He’s on my side, I learnt to see His hand in small things, having to trust Him that He sees the end even while I don’t. I always knew that surrendering my emotions and wishes to Him is the ideal way to live. Difference: Now I’m closer to DOING it instead of only KNOWING it.
- Instead of wishing for quick fixes (rushing through peeling fruit) I realise, accept and now embrace the fact that good things, good lives, good relationships…take time. He is in the business of long term effects, not instant gratification or even instant results. But is He at work? Always.
- Here’s a big one: I used to be afraid of not living the above average life that He created me for. I wanted to prove on a grand scale that I am an effective tool in His hand. Prove to who? We get it so wrong sometimes. Now…now I see how He wants me to live His character daily – and that’s a better option than any grand ministry I can start up. Without learning His fundamentals, my attempt at saving the world (or some people) would crumble.
I hate that it took so long to learn these lessons. But that’s what happens when you have it easy I guess.
I’m Better…and Thankful
Let’s be clear: These are still challenges. But I’m better. And when I struggle (with stress, insecurities, work) I remind myself: I’m not where I was yesterday or a few months ago.
I’m so much better that I can relax while making a fruit salad instead of blasting through that task too. Blasting through simply to avoid the fact that I’m not very good at something.
Can I become a culinary chef yet? No. And I probably never will.
But I can be proud and above all thankful that He took the time to calm me down about life…to become more adept at facing challenges. Now, when I attempt anything in this life it may take longer, but it will be better. And I don’t run away anymore
He does have mysterious ways.