Pressure Cooker

I don’t have a pressure cooker.  But I’ve seen and heard about them.  You know, those large pans where you lock on a lid and then set things to boiling and the steam cannot come out until it reaches a certain pressure.  The benefits of a pressure cooker are that foods can cook much faster as the heat is distributed, “very evenly, quickly and deeply.” (Wikipedia).

Pressure cookers also have a “safety valve” in case the pressure gets too high and the gauge isn’t working. This keeps the entire thing from exploding! Kabooom!  Not what you really want to happen in your kitchen when the temperature is that hot.  It’s also not a pretty thing to happen to us emotionally either – spewing our negativity to all around us is definitely ugly.

Well, sometimes life can feel like this, can’t it?  When the pressure builds up and we can’t go anywhere with it.  When someone wrongly accuses you but won’t listen to your explanation or taken responsibility for their own sin.  Pressure builds.  When disappointments pile up, seemingly small, one after another.  Pressure builds.  When attacks come against you that are unexpected and you can’t fight because the perpetrator is unknown.  Pressure builds. When then bills keep piling up and the checking account is empty. Pressure builds.  When the kids keep whining and fighting and making demands and you get no break and your sleep deprived.  Pressure.

So, where’s your safety valve?  I’m feeling pressure in some of those areas. Through the haze of the steam it makes it harder to see things as they really are.  Sometimes I want to curse myself for being so vulnerable to pressure.  It makes me feel so emotionally fragile at times.  Sometimes being “human” is just not fun.   Is anyone tracking with me here?

I’m not saying I have this figured out. I don’t.  My only comfort is in reminding myself that God is maybe “cooking” me through the circumstances of life so that I WILL be more tender and sensitive to the hurts of those around me.  Can I submit to the pressure knowing that there’s a higher purpose to it all?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2-4)

That’s all well and good, but still – what is my safety valve?  What’s yours?  Prayer.  Praising God with music.  Maybe coffee with a friend.  Oh, a massage would help (if the checking account thing weren’t the issue), a phone call to someone who understands, journaling, maybe just a good long walk to expend some of the pent up adrenaline that occurs physically when there are emotional challenges?  A good, from the diaphragm, scream?

How do you decompress?  Seriously – any ideas would be welcome because sometimes we share things that can help others.

Here’s a song by Billy Joel that kind of exemplifies the challenge.  Joel says “Here you are with your faith and your Peter Pan advice. . . and you cannot handle pressure.”  Yes, Billy, there is a cosmic plan and while pressure will come, there’s nothing magical about the fact that we all have to deal with it.  While I may not always understand God’s rationale for my pain and struggles, I can trust him and I am not alone.  In this we have a hope that Mr. Joel has missed.  Let’s not make his same mistake.

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