Pressure

I have never been fond of stress. Some people like the thrill of it and the drama. Not me. Why rush when I do a better job at something when I can think about it for a while? Isn’t the outcome then going to be better? I never understood why the education system didn’t consider this when forcing us to take timed tests.

In high school, I took a typing class. I was somewhat versed in the subject already, having used an old-fashioned one at home. This new model was electric, which made the letters appear quicker than the ancient one, requiring a firm press down to work. It only took a light touch to get this one to work.

We were told that timed quizzes would be given in addition to our regular homework assignments. There was nothing better on a Monday morning to be half asleep and have that news thrown at you.

We stationed ourselves obediently and placed our hands on ‘home row’. It was like a runner taking his mark. The nerves were high because what if I hadn’t practiced enough to get through the passage before the buzzer went off?

With silence hanging heavily in the air, we waited for the signal to begin. Unfortunately, when the instructor screamed,

“GO!” my entire body jumped, causing my hands to hit all the keys at once. My first line was a mess, and my grade would get knocked down for that. I never got used to her method of having us begin, and she might as well shot off a handgun for the same effect.

Similar to that anxiety producing experience was my mom’s pressure cooker. She had a big family to feed, so this pot allowed a large quantity of food to be done in a short amount of time.

It was set on the stove to sizzle just to let you know it was there, ready to attack if you got too close.

“Be careful of the pressure cooker if you go in the kitchen,” she would say to me.

Often, I would forget and run by it. That is when I found out it was to be feared. It would spit scalding hot water on anyone who did not pass its path on tiptoes. The surprise sting of the liquid, plus the loud hissing sound, struck fear immediately. It seemed to be in charge and made sure to make you aware of its presence. I vowed never to have one.

For Christmas, a few years ago, I was given the upgraded version of one. My childhood fears resurfaced as I looked at the box. However, this one has safety features and is not at all like the ones of former years. It plugs into an outlet and has a sealed lid, presenting a gentler approach to using it.

I still didn’t trust it. But, I was willing to see how it worked. So, the first time, I found a soup recipe, and I put in the ingredients and made sure that I followed all the instructions. I kept visualizing it going off like a bomb and destroying my entire neighborhood, and the Red Cross was involved. Did I want that kind of destruction just for a bowl of soup?

I went online to read voraciously about those who had been brave enough to try it. There is a rather large community of people who like to live on the edge. They throw everything into this, making anything you can think of, with some owning multiple units. Many of them have built on additions to their homes to house all their pots. And they post pictures. None of them are shy about how obsessed they are.

Not one of the message threads spoke of any disaster happening. This made me less fearful about using it.

I put on the lid, which makes a magical chime sound to calm the nerves, and set the timer as indicated by the cookbook. I stared at it as the numbers clicked by. I felt safe to leave it for a minute, but then I was back to be sure that I knew when we were all going to die possibly.

The valve on the top of the lid began to hiss slightly. I went to the online cult and found that this was normal. It meant that it was coming to pressure, and there was no cause for concern. After that, it was as if nothing was happening.

The thirteen minutes went by way too slow. This was supposed to give me free time to wander the house and think deeply. That was not how it went at all, and I kept going back to watch it do nothing.

The next part was the most harrowing. It was a requirement to push the sealing mechanism on top to release all the steam. The timer beeped, and I decided that I could not stand directly in front of it as I did this. I had come this far in the process without losing a limb or two, and I hoped I would have both hands available to eat the soup.

I got out an oversized potholder and pulled it up to my elbow, and grabbed the longest spatula out of the group. I realized that where the pot was lined up with the wall would work to my advantage. I could reach around and hit the valve with the spatula but have the wall keep me hidden, just in case this didn’t go as planned.

Blindly, I reached around. I took a quick peek to see if the utensil would be able to release the steam. I hit it as fast as I could and then retracted my arm out of the way. I ran in the opposite direction, hearing the sound of a massive amount of vapor streaming upward. But that was it. There were no casualties as I had thought there would be. And, it was the best soup I had ever made in my whole life.

I use it now without a second thought.

All of us, at some point, are going to be confronted with something that makes us feel uncomfortable. Most of the time, when we feel tension, we imagine the worst outcome. Worry, anxiety, and panic can feel overwhelming, and it’s difficult to discern or think straight. So why not do this?

Psalm 55:22: So here’s what I have learned through it all: Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you. (TPT)

Give it to God, and it will take off the pressure.

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