You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors (James 1:3 MSG).
I am a country girl, and I love the beauty of watching a seed grow into a plant and a plant producing nutritious fruit and vegetables, and then enjoying eating the fruit of our labor! However, the fruit is sweeter and the vegetables last longer if they are cooked and canned. To accomplish this, we often used a pressure cooker. So how does a pressure cooker work? Online kitchen expert, Miss Vickie, describes it like this:
The only way to make the steam hotter (and/or to boil the water at a higher temperature) is to put the system under pressure. This is what a pressure cooker does. If we fit an absolutely tight cover to the pan so no steam can escape while we continue to add heat, both the pressure and temperature inside the vessel will rise…. Steam has six times the heat potential … This increased heat transfer potential is why steam is such an effective cooking medium. 1
In the same way, pressure can make your marriage better, just as food in a pressure cooker will be preserved well and taste scrumptious, so will your marriage become “tastier” if it can handle the pressure.
In 10 Secrets to Living Smart, Savvy and Strong, I share in detail one of the pressure cooker times of our marriage: Bill was ill, all three of our sons got injured in football, my brother had a heart attack and I felt torn with the painful question of “Who do I help first?” In addition, finances were exceptionally tight, there was an emotionally painful conflict with people we trusted, plus the daily pressures of midlife: hot flashes, night sweats and the aches and pains of aging bodies and minds. The apostle Paul knew this kind of stress:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8–9 NIV
“Pressed” means “pressed upon,” like in a vise; “perplexed is a term for “puzzled”; “persecuted is the picture of harassing to cause pain; “struck down” is the knockout punch, but not a death blow. Have you ever felt like you and your mate are there? Are you pressed in from every side, puzzled, harassed, and knocked to the ground by life? Many of us, due to pressure of the pandemic, are wondering “How can we move our relationships forward in a healthier way?”
In these pressure-pounding times, it is easy to play the blame game. If he would have only done this, or she should have known to do that … it is a no-win spiral down that slippery slope. That is like opening the pressure cooker too early — which can cause a big mess:
If you’ve ever heard of a cooker exploding, mostly the cause was the cooker was forced open before it has completely cooled down. When the cooker is opened too early, it can “blow a gasket” and the pressurized contents will explode all over! So how do you avoid that scenerio with a real pressure cooker?
One experienced cook gives this advice: “A blow up is avoided by waiting until the pressure has dropped before opening the lid. … If steam hisses beneath the weight as it’s touched, the contents of the cooker are still under pressure and must continue cooling down. If steam doesn’t hiss out, even after the indicator weight has been lifted off the cooker …” 2 it is safe to move forward. Here are a few ways we have learned to handle love in the pressure cooker of life and not blow our TOPs:
Take a breath.
Stop and pray a simple prayer like counselor, Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd: “Lord, I give You everyone and everything”
Operate in the opposite.
If he is grumpy, bring cheer; If he is depressed, offer hope. One way to do this is pray and ask, “Lord, which fruit of the Spirit would bring comfort to my mate right now?”
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
Place the issue in perspective.
Some seasons are just plain HARD! Instead of blaming each other, which adds steam and may cause one or both of you to “blow a gasket,” instead, follow our example. We safely defuse the pressure by looking at each other and saying, “It’s not you; it’s not me; it’s just LIFE!”
Lord, help us not blame one another. Instead, help us become good at safely releasing steam for each other when caught in the pressure cooker of life. Amen