Watch for Warnings Signs So You’re Not Left with Broken Pieces

porcelain tea cup and tea pot on a wooden tray

Whoever said a watched pot never boils has no clue about the world of making Chai tea. No matter how I watch the pot, it has a way of turning from a few bubbles forming along the rim of the cup to an active volcano in seconds—well, probably not even that long. It happens fast, leaving me with the golden liquid covering the cooktop and forming little charred blobs on the burner.

I’m telling you, I stand at the stove watching for that very first bubble, hand ready to turn off the burner, and wham, tea spews from the pot to the stove.

Believe me when I tell you I was watching it. Well, except for that split second when I turned to answer my husband’s question. Mount Vesuvius ensued!

This has happened enough that I’m at a place of giving up on preparing Chai on the stovetop and resorting to the microwave. But honestly, have you seen what happens to almond milk in a microwave? The beautiful cup of creamy white goodness turns into a volcano. So, perhaps I’m destined to change my preferred morning beverage to herbal tea, in water. But for some reason that just seems wrong. I mean really wrong.

Maybe I need to follow the instructions of a wise fellow Chai lover: Cook the beloved beverage on the stove and as soon as it starts steaming, remove it. But (and please know I am writing this in the whiniest voice I can muster) I really like the foam that forms from a good rolling boil.

Overlooking the Warning Signs

Before you judge me too harshly, stop and think. Has there ever been a time when you’ve taken your eyes off the one thing you should be focusing on? Perhaps it’s a marriage that is starting to show the cracks of decades of unspoken hurts or the child whose attitudes and behaviors are sounding alarms but there’s no energy to have the needed conversation. Maybe it’s a nagging case of heartburn that you know is more than just last night’s spicy dinner. Or it’s the friendship that has died of careless neglect. Regardless of what it is, we all lose sight of important things.

Taking my eyes off the task in front of me happens on a daily basis, and I’m not just talking about tea. Whether it is a quick distraction caused by a ping on my phone or a more prolonged detour resulting from my refusal to face the challenges forged from my situations, I have to refocus my mind and heart throughout my day.

Recently I’ve noticed that my most dangerous lapses are the ones I experience when I take my eyes off the grounding truth of Jesus’ word. It can appear in many different forms, from knowing the truth and arrogantly ignoring it, innocently becoming too busy to focus and pay attention to it, or not fully understanding God’s instruction and blindly moving forward under my own power. Regardless of the reason, I am learning a few practical steps to keep my mind and heart focused on the Truth. Perhaps you will find them helpful as well.

How to Stay Focused and Avoid Bigger Problems

Be watchful.
I falsely believed I was focused on my pot of rumbling tea. But in hindsight, I wasn’t paying attention at the most critical time, right as the bubbles were forming. They were small warning signs that something was about to happen, letting me know I needed to pay closer attention. And the funny thing is, I had experienced the rumble and the bubbles in the past. It wasn’t like it was a foreign clue. They had proceeded a number of times when my Chai boiled over.

Unfortunately, I use the same tactic in my day-to-day. I start thinking that I am in control and that my plans are perfect for the situation, and I ignore all the small warning signs that appear. And before I know it, I have taken my focus off God’s truth and am leaning on my own power and strength, and that is a sure way to erupt, boil over, and scorch my life.

Before I know it, I have taken my focus off God’s truth and am leaning on my own power and strength, and that is a sure way to erupt, boil over, and scorch my life.

Each experience, each time I take my focus off the situation, life becomes a little more complicated and my confidence in my ability to make solid decisions is challenged. Yet, there is one positive thing that comes out of each failed outcome: a confirmation that without staying attentive, stuff happens. It’s a hard lesson to learn but I know I need to stay watchful when the signs are clear, remain vigilant when I think I have it all under control, and don’t forget that God is my only source of truth.

I encourage you to stay focused on all the small things that make up your every day and remember when you need direction, God’s truth is only a prayer away.

Humbly surrender.
 My wise friend laughs each time I share my Chai woes. She gently reminds me to watch for the steam. But there is a side of me that just really wants it my way and I dig my heels in and burn the tea!

If I want a cup of Chai, I must watch for the steam and stop before the rumble starts. A foamless cup of tea is far better than mopping up the stuff from under the stovetop and scraping the charred remnants from the burner surface. Thank you, my wise friend!

And trust me. I am learning it is far smarter to surrender my will, plans, and decisions to God’s perfect understanding and loving guidance. The next time I am tempted to push close to the boiling point, I will refocus my attention on God’s truth and give him the rightful place to call the shots, protecting me from blowing up my life one more time.

I hope you can take a minute, as you near the crisis or in the heat of the battle, to inquire how God would have you navigate the journey. And then humbly surrender to the All-Knowing, All-Loving Creator of the universe.

I do want to make one thing clear. When (not if) you lose sight and find yourself spewing and boiling over, remember that the same God that gave his One and Only loves you. He understands your humanness and can provide the needed strength and courage for you to wake up tomorrow and start a fresh, forgiven new day.

Sometimes we mess up and have to pick up the pieces. The good news? It helps us approach situations with better discernment. For more on making wiser decisions, take a listen to this podcast episode: How to Make Decisions You Won’t Regret – 200

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