Embrace Your Inner Pretzel

I love baking! And since my mother passed away some seven years ago, I love preparing our family’s traditional German dishes whenever I can. Last weekend I attempted to make homemade pretzels from scratch. Not the easiest of endeavors, for in the course of making the dough, shaping the pretzel, applying the lye paste, and baking them off without over baking or burning them, I came to realize that with all the twists and turns of the process, anything that could happen probably would.

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This got me thinking about my own life’s journey, which has been anything but a straight line. It too has been jam-packed with ups and downs, ins and outs, triumphs and defeats, as well as celebrations and deep, long periods of grieving and loss. Yet through it all, I have found a sense of joy and meaning that I’m quite positive would not have appeared had I not been caught from time to time in the twists and turns of the road. It’s human nature to want to avoid the darker passages of life because they’re often painful and seemingly unending. However, it’s in those situations where the truth of who I am surfaces to not only feel life’s pain, but to endure—to champion another crisis of faith and meet it with a sense that “this too shall pass.” In other words, when I lose myself, I nearly always reappear stronger and with more integrity for whom I am and what’s in store for me in the future.

The secret I think is to enjoy the pretzel of life’s journey without becoming an emotional pretzel oneself. I can’t expect life to be straight and simple like a bread stick—calm but uninteresting. Somehow I have to find the place within the heart where I can truly cherish the bends and folds of my journey without emotionally coming apart or trying to over manipulate the messier circumstances. The tension found in the twists and turns of life are what give it its zest, its growth, and its meaning.

Gwen Overland