My mother-in-law handed me a bowl of steaming hot soup.
“Add some fresh onions and squeeze a little lemon juice on it” she instructed as she passed me a plate of fresh, soft, and warm corn tortillas. I watched as everyone around the table dipped the tortilla into the soup and then ate it. I did the same thing. It was DELICIOUS! The flavors were strong and full of spices. I ate my entire bowl and then had another.
As I sat down to eat my second bowl, my sister-in-law asked if I knew what I was eating. I didn’t. And I didn’t care—it was my new favorite soup, whatever it was. They all laughed as I declared it the best soup I had ever had. Then, they told me what was in Menudo.
Look beyond the circumstance.
I stopped with my spoon halfway to my mouth. I put my spoon back into the bowl and stirred it up, looking closely at the small pieces of meat and hominy floating in the rich and savory broth. It could not be true! I was eating tripe—the muscle lining of the stomachs from a cow. How gross!! The lining of a cow stomach? Really?
I was so disgusted. And yet, the soup tasted so good. I thought about it for a few more seconds. I decided to keep eating it. The soup taste had not changed – only my knowledge of what it was made of had increased. I love Menudo to this day.
Just like Menudo, we can’t judge someone from their experiences. This delicious soup is made from meat that most butchers toss into the trash. Many people in our society view families with a loved one in prison the same way – disposable. But they are wrong.
We can take this situation and turn it into something amazing.
Find what you are made of.
The tough times help us discover our true character. The things buried deep inside our heart comes out. And it might not be pretty. You might think that there is no way anything good can come from your life. You might even be appalled by what you discover about yourself and the way you think. But that is not the end of your story.
As you walk through this extremely hard season in your life, you become vulnerable and all pretense falls away. At that moment, you will get an intimate look at what you are really made of. We all hope that what is deep in there is beautiful and good. But it won’t be. Under pressure, all of the ugly stuff comes out and is exposed. Us the list below to help determine what you are REALLY made of.
When Ron first went to prison, I felt so intimidated by, well, by just about everything and everybody. It was really hard to stand up for myself. I felt as if I was not entitled to have a voice.
Do not run from the ugly.
Take a good look at who you are today. If you see a mess of “ugly” inside of you, do not run from it. If you do, you just sentenced yourself to a life of misery, discontent, and self-destructive choices. However, if you see the gross stuff and deal with it, you will begin to dream again and begin to walk into a new lifestyle.
See the opportunities.
Just like the tripe in Menudo, when we only look at the pain of prison instead of seeing the opportunities, we will throw away something that can become really good.
Change your perspective.
But! If we will choose to see what we believed was worthless, painful, and pointless –your current situation, past abuse, your own life—as valuable and capable of becoming something amazing, we can change our destiny.
Change your world.
If you continue to do what you have always done or given up, you are accepting a label that others have put on you. Lost Cause. Worthless. Undesirable. But when you decide to take your tripe and make Menudo (or lemons and make lemonade) you have discovered that you are valuable, worthy, and capable of changing your world.
Discovering what you are made of is an important part of moving away from the cycle of self-destruction and moving toward reaching your dreams. You are so much more than you ever believed you could be. Your past does not dictate your future. But it will qualify you to have a unique, beautiful, and fulfilling future if you let it.
I am rooting for you!