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Chicken Soup

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You’ve likely heard it proclaimed throughout your entire life: chicken soup is good medicine.

Whether it was your mother, grandmother, or a Campbell’s soup commercial handing out the advice, a steaming bowl of chicken soup has been touted as the cure for just about every ailment, from the common cold to a nasty scrape on the knee.

But is chicken soup really a medicine of sorts? Does it actually possess healing capabilities, or is its magic all in our heads?

Around the twelfth century, trusted healers started to prescribe “the broth of fowl” for their ill patients. It was during that time that Egyptian and Jewish physician and philosopher Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimonides started to write extensively about the benefits of chicken soup.

The ancient healer wrote, “The meat taken should be that of hens or roosters and their broth should also be taken because this sort of fowl has virtue in purifying infections.”

Maimonides used his fowl brew to treat such things like hemorrhoids, constipation, and even leprosy. He strongly believed and especially praised the brew’s healing power for respiratory illnesses like the common cold.

Eight hundred years later, people still say that chicken soup will cure anything.

I’m here to tell you what chicken soup has done for me.

Six years ago, chicken soup actually broke my toe.

I was reaching for the freezer door to open it, and the can of soup that was sitting on top of the refrigerator slowly slipped off its resting place and dropped onto my second toe and made it bleed. The EMS arrived and bandaged it up. I wanted to tell people what happened, so I titled my emails Chicken Soup broke my toe.

To my surprise, people were laughing and some thought it was a joke. I had no intention of being funny.

After some time had passed, I was still experiencing pain, and I saw my doctor. He said that the toe was okay, but it was the nail that was damaged. He also told me that the pain that I was feeling was the old nail leaving my body making room for the new one.

“Chicken soup will cure anything!” Normally, that means that you have to open the can and consume it internally for it to do its job.

My experience was somewhat different.

In a way, that chicken soup did heal me from life’s troubles. Whenever I notice growth and prosperity in life, or when old friends, jobs, or things in life (that just didn’t work out) are put to rest behind me, I welcome in the new friends, new job, and new life. And I think of what my doctor said, after my episode with the chicken soup.

When I have to go through periods of waiting and loneliness and my mind wanders to experiences with critical people, I again think of chicken soup. Some people may call it counting your blessings and some think of the classic song by Julie Andrews (“My Favorite Things”). I think of chicken soup breaking my toe (and the new growth caused by the injury).

Of course, later that week I consumed the soup that injured me. But, for it to first hit my toe and cause an upset for the old to leave and the new to arrive is just like times in life when we can only grow and prosper if we get old stuff out of our lives, and accept the new wonderful things that make life worthwhile.

There will always be pain in the process of change. Living on this Earth we will have bitterness and conflict and trials. But to overcome them we have to take action and move. Maybe all you have to do is take that one little step. Maybe you have to pack up and leave the neighborhood. And maybe you have to do more, like leave behind friends, family, job, and home.

I have discovered three principles in making a way to a better life:

  • Principle One: Begin your journey with faith.
    All things are possible with God and if you put Him first he will grant the desires of your heart.
  • Principle Two: Be careful of who your friends are.
    Don’t just have faith in God, but find people who have faith in you.
  • Principle Three: Seek wisdom in everything.
    Strive to do better than you already are. Learn new words, play games that exercise your brain. “By the choices we make, by the attitudes we exhibit, we are influencing lives every day in positive or negative ways.”-Mac Anderson

Some people think their lives are fine the way they are and don’t want to change (or improve) anything.

I have met a number of people who hold that view and yet, I have observed that they could actually improve their lives by making a few small changes.

Some have fear of the unknown—I believe to an extent we all do—but to know what those fears are and to overcome them, life can be better than you have ever dreamed of.

That reminds me of a story I heard some time ago from a pastor in Memphis, Tennessee:

An Arab chief tells the story of a spy captured and sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and entering into a big, black door.

The moment for execution drew near, and guards brought the spy to the Persian general, “What will it be,” asked the general, “the firing squad or the big, black door?”

The spy hesitated for a long time. Finally he chose the firing squad.

A few minutes later, hearing the shots ring out confirming the spy’s execution, the general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known to the unknown. People fear what they don’t know. Yet, we gave him a choice.”

“What lies beyond the big door?” asked the aide.

“Freedom,” replied the general. “I’ve known only a few brave enough to take that door.”

The best opportunities in our lives stand behind the forbidding door of the great unknown.

Everyone has fears of some sort, and some have to go through hell to face them for their lives to improve. I have gone through more than a can of soup hitting my toe. I have lost a daughter, lived without a family, been alone, destitute, and done without that most people take for granted. It did take a few years to discover what needed to be done in order to have a better life. Books help, hanging around the right people helps, my faith helps, and what has helped more than anything is knowing that the pain that is caused by old things slowly leaving and the new wonderful things that I allow to enter in is necessary for my growth. I still believe in order for everyone’s life to change for the better we need to throw out the old, live through the journey, and accept the wonderful things that will enter in that make life worthwhile.

Maybe chicken soup actually can cure anything—even if the can isn’t opened!


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