Pressure. Ever feel like you are under so much pressure you could......explode?
My Mom would sometimes use a "pressure cooker" when she wanted to get the potatoes done in a hurry or get meat tender quickly, especially on Sunday after church. No, we never went out to eat, ate sandwiches, or waited till supper time for our "big meal" on Sunday. My Mom, every single Sunday of my growing up years, cooked a full meal and had it ready within an hour after we arrived home from church. The family sat down AT the table together and that Sunday dinner tradition impressed me so much that as a young Mom, I was determined that my boys have that same experience. And we did. For years after they married and had homes of their own, when they could, they came here after church on Sunday and we enjoyed Sunday dinner together. And yes, from time to time, I used a "pressure cooker."
Every woman of my Mom's generation, that I know of, had a pressure cooker and she used it every Sunday. A pressure cooker works by tightly sealing the lid onto the pot, the lid has a small hole in the top, and a little regulator fits over that hole. The idea of the pressure cooker is that as the food inside it cooks, steam builds, then escapes through the hole and it is let off at regular intervals by the regulator. The food, under intense pressure, gets cooked very quickly. After the food is cooked, the pot is removed from the heat and the pressure is released a little at a time until there is no pressure left inside. Great idea right? And this is my Mom's pressure cooker. I use it occasionally, but actually, I am a little intimidated by it.
Not a great pic and you can sure tell it was used a lot, but girls, this is an old fashioned pressure cooker!!
It was the last one she used, but certainly not the first one. It really would be an antique!
I don't remember any "explosions" with that pressure cooker, but David also remembers his Mom's pressure cooker............
David's Mom was a great cook and she used her pressure cooker a lot. One day, in a hurry to feed her hungry family, she decided to quickly cook some "greens" (spinach, kale, for you who are too young to remember "greens".) The "jiggler" as we called it, was happily singing on that pressure cooker, the family was in the living room laughing and talking and suddenly there was an explosion in the kitchen. They all ran in and David said "greens" were hanging from the light fixture, curtains, and everything else in that kitchen. (I could make a joke here about the "hanging of the greens", but I won't) Greens cook very quickly and his Mom forgot to turn down the burner under the pressure cooker, pressure built to such intensity that the pot could not handle the pressure and the only thing it could do was to "blow up". And that is where we get the phrase, letting off steam.
Pressure affects every woman I know. Whether it is the girl in Middle School, the bride engaged to be married, the new wife, the Mom who is trying to keep it all together, the women in our 50's and 60's who are feeling the pressure to adjust to changes in our lives, or the woman of any age who feels pressure to fit in, look good, feel good......do good, women today are pressured. And when there is too much pressure, and not enough "steam" is let off, we're going to explode and when we do, there will be pieces of us laying everywhere.
At this time of year, most of us feel like we are living in a "pressure cooker." There are only 31 days in this month, but I can tell you of more than 31 events that David and I would like to attend, together. With 3 sons, 8 grandchildren, our extended families and church families, this month is packed; and in a good way. We love the holidays and we especially love being with our family, and I sure don't want to have those special times marred by memories of the "pressure cooker", (me) blowing up and leaving a mess!
So how do I handle the pressure?
1. Say this with me: "Everything in my house does not have to be perfect and look perfect!" Now remember that when family and friends stop by unexpectedly.
2. Say this with me: "I do not have to be all things to all people." With all you have to do, I am going to add one more thing to your list; sorry. Each morning, this month, before your feet hit the floor, pray this prayer:
"Lord, help me stay focused today on pleasing You." It is amazing how that simple prayer keeps things in perspective for us, even if we have to pray it several times during the day. I tend to be a "people pleaser" and I often say yes, when I should say an emphatic "no!" When I'm focused on pleasing God, it does unexpected things to my attitude toward all the demands on my busy life. I don't want to over-use that word "amazing" here, but it is amazing how that simple prayer keeps me focused, and keeps life in perspective.
3. It's ok to have a private meltdown, in the bathroom, with the door closed, with guests seated around the table, tree, fireplace, etc. When you feel the pressure build, take a break. They can handle it for a few minutes if you aren't in the room, they'll adjust, they may not even miss you. Please don't tell my kids this, but on more than one holiday, (several actually), I have gone into my bathroom, closed the door, sat down on the floor, took several deep breaths, hummed a few bars of "How Great Thou Art", went back to the group and had a great time!! It's amazing, (that word again) how much steam escapes when I focus on God, praise His Holy name, and remember that Jesus truly is the reason for the season.
The old saying, "hindsight is 20/20" is so true and as I get older, I am finding out more and more just how true. And this is what I am learning; most of the pressure I felt I was under when my marriage was new and my kids were little was pressure that I put on myself. It did not come from David's expectations, my boy's expectations, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my church family, it came from the steam to be all things to all people that built up in me, and instead of letting it off a little at time, I exploded.
So, ladies, in this pressure cooker month we live in, take some pressure off. Be sure to have a few minutes each day of quiet, close your eyes and breathe slowly and say His precious name. It is amazing how that name above all names, (Eph.1:21) breathed in prayer and thanksgiving slowly eases the pressure. Take time to just sit still; Psalm 46: 10; "Be still and know that I Am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Put your focus on that baby in the manger, God's greatest gift to us, and enjoy the angel's exaltation: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to all people." It only takes a few quiet minutes, focused on God, to release a ton of pressure.
January 1 will be here before we know it. There will be new pressures in 2015. Sorry, but that is the way life is. Maybe if we learn how to take some pressure off, we can avoid those nasty explosions! (remember the greens???)
Love you all,