Hello, Hot Potato!

Red Rubber Ball

Do remember playing Hot Potato in school? We sat in a circle on the floor and pretended this red rubber ball was a “hot potato.” To avoid getting “burned,” we had to pass the ball as quickly as possible to someone else in the circle. If you weren’t paying attention and didn’t catch the ball, you were “out.”
Yesterday I stopped at the grocery store to fill in the gaps between my big out-of-town excursions. As I checked out – puppy chow, eggs, apples, butter (just because it was on sale) – the clerk initiated the usual friendly customer relations chit-chat.
“How are you?”
“Fine, and you?”
“All right. You look warm.” (This because I was bundled up in scarf, gloves, and coat to avoid getting that horrible fall chill that stays with you till spring.) I shared this information.
Candy corn

… Awkward pause while she scanned my extra “essentials” — Diet Dr. Pepper and a bag of candy corn – ’tis the season, you know.
As I pull my debit card from my wallet, she says, “Today I found out two of the people I clean house for have SWINE FLU.” (Spoken in a hissing whisper, the way some folks say “cancer.”) 
Excellent Swine Flu Advice

She caught my eye, held it. I blinked, scrambled around in my brain for an appropriate response while everything within me went on high alert, complete with red lights and sirens.
She picked up my cucumber and weighed it. 
You’re gonna need to wash that when you get it home.
She shuddered delicately. “Swine flu. Both of them.”
I swiped my card. Why is she telling me this?
I politely wished her good health as I gathered my groceries and exited the store. Why did she feel the need to share that information with me? I could be paranoid and think she was out to get me, trying to frighten me, trying to destroy my faith. Nah.
She shared that with me because she was afraid. Fear is like a hot potato. Once it jumps on you, you want to toss it to someone else before you get burned. But passing it on to another person never makes us feel better, it usually amplifies the distress because the more you repeat it, the bigger it gets!
Hot potatoes appear in all sorts of varieties. If you’re a parent, it might be something scary about vaccinations, pro or con, when you’d already decided what was right for your child and family. If you’re a homeowner, your hot potato might involve the discovery of radon, or that weird black mold, or something in the water, at a neighbor’s house. It could be the news of a co-worker’s husband getting laid off, someone your same age contracting a terminal illness, it could be almost anything that triggers fear.
Now, I realize not everyone reacts like this to a minor comment. It wouldn’t even have registered on my husband. He’s practically immune to scary potatoes. But if it sparks fear, worry, even agitation in your mind, you’ve been handed a hot potato.
Magnified image of potato sprout base.

Back to the store… So I’m walking out with my cart and this potato, so to speak. If I stuff it in a mental pocket and try to forget about it, it is GUARANTEED to sprout roots, leaves, and become an entire plant in the form of symptoms, suggestions, or situations that confirm the potato’s veracity.
I read an article this week about an outbreak of canine influenza. Yes, dog flu. Yesterday, my Westie woke up from his afternoon nap and barfed (not uncommon, he has a notoriously sensitive tummy.) But as shoots and leaves crept up and tried to grip me, like Snow White running through the enchanted forest, I realized I’d been holding on to that dog flu potato. Yuk.
Hot potatoes will come from strange and unusual sources. What do you do about them? Don’t attack the potato passer, he or she is an innocent potato victim. Instead, be the mature one. Take the hot potato and dispose of it. Where? In God’s throne room. As soon as possible, as if it were something that belonged in a biohazard unit at the doctor’s office, roll that potato over on God. He is well-qualified and equipped to handle it. You and I are not.
“Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail.)”
Psalm 55:22 Amplified
“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”
1 Peter 5:7 Amplified


Do any of you have any other good ideas for clearing out those hot potatoes that come your way? Share them! Let’s put a stop to all this hot potato passing! Sometimes just knowing what’s happening can shut down a barrage of fear before it has a chance to take root!

One thought on “Hello, Hot Potato!

  1. Trina says:

    Very good. Fear is something you don't normally even recognize as you go about your day. It is so automatic to just file it under "normal" concern. Your article just put a visual to something I would not have thought about. Thanks.

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