My almost 11-year-old daughter, Gabby, really is an amazing cook. I often marvel at her understanding of flavors, textures, and how certain spices perfectly blend with others to make a good meal, great. For her age, I would venture to say she is an extraordinary cook.
In a word… she gets it from her Mama! I too know my way around a kitchen. I am the girl whose house friends flock to at the mere mention of the idea that I may want to throw a brunch or dinner. I often get requests for recipes and even more often than that, people ask me to cook certain dishes to take with them to parties or to add to their holiday tables. I love it really, and my daughter shares my same enthusiasm from seeing people enjoy the foods she’s prepared with love. You see, it’s kinda our thing around here.
One night this past week I came home from work extremely tired. I was both mentally spent and physically exhausted, so when my daughter announced that she wanted to cook that night’s meal, I was not only happy; I was beyond grateful to oblige her. I made my way to my room to change into my comfortable clothes. I grabbed my phone, stretched across the bed, and began the mindless task of scrolling social media and laughing at the cuteness and silliness of my friends’ posts.
While lounging out, completely enjoying the moment of just being, I could smell the magnetic aroma of garlic, onions, and if I knew my child well, paprika and turmeric mingled with pink sea salt and cracked pepper marrying with a sizzling pan of fresh vegetables. She was making one of my favorite dishes! The smell alone was enough to make me want to drift into the kitchen to see how things were coming along and maybe snag a taste of something, but I was much too tired and too comfortable relaxing on my bed to come to the table before I was called. I knew she had it. As I said before, she’s proven herself to be a great cook, and she knows her way around knives and any such thing that a parent would be concerned about, so I continued to enjoy this rare moment of solitude while she labored.
Eventually, the clanging of my steel spatula against the pan; the scraping of pots and the sweet smell of orange sauce bubbling on the stove, beckoned me out of my room and down the hall. The smell and the time I had been afforded to rest both told me that dinner; a vegan orange “chicken” with brown rice and stir-fried veggies, was nearly complete. I made my way to the kitchen still tired, still thinking of how great it would be to have a full belly and a hot shower before retreating back to my room to rest for the night.
I was thinking how great it would be to finally have a night to do nothing, but when I got near the kitchen my daughter shouted from the stove “Mom, don’t come in here!” The words alone made my feet move faster to see exactly why I was being begged, not ordered, to refrain from setting foot in my own kitchen.
When I rounded the corner, I understood exactly why she’d asked. Every cabinet door in the kitchen stood wide open. Countless number of spice jars covered the counters, wads of paper towel where strewn from one end to the other, and a bottle of soy sauce that had been mistakenly dropped, lay gushing on the linoleum floor. Basically, my kitchen was a COMPLETE disaster, and my ideas of grandeur, of having one little night to rest began to crash and burn in front of me. You see, my almost 11-year-old is an extraordinary cook, but she is not the best at cleaning. In that department she is as 10 as a 10-year-old can get, and I knew for sure she couldn’t handle the task of cleaning up after herself alone… at least not to my satisfaction.
I sighed as I got myself poised to grumble, groan and ask a million frustrated questions about why she had to turn my kitchen into a disaster area to make a meal. She was frantically moving back and forth trying to get dinner on the table, mumbling promises that she would clean it up.
It sounds so petty today, but I was devastated looking at all the work I had to do to fix this or help fix this when all I wanted to do was rest… Can I just get ONE DAY to rest?! To not have to work all day and then come home and work until it was time to go to sleep? That’s what my days as a single mother look like, and I just wanted the night off. Just one. I could feel the aggravation swelling in my chest, but then I felt that soft familiar tap of the Holy Spirit on my shoulder. His touch immediately sent the air in my chest softly out of my nose instead of abruptly out of my mouth as I had planned. I looked at my daughter, trying so hard to do something to help me, to please me, to make me happy so I wouldn’t have to do it and the Lord spoke these words that I’ll never forget;
“Broken kitchens are much easier to mend than broken spirits.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. How would it have made me feel if I was trying to do something to impress someone and all they did was pick my good deed apart? How would I feel if I’d prepared a delicious meal, had tried my very best, and the person who I was trying to love, (because my daughter and I both love on others through cooking) decided to criticize my dirty dishes instead? I would feel terrible, broken and maybe even offended too. That right there is a recipe that the enemy loves to concoct to keep us at odds with one another. If I were to have done what I genuinely felt like doing… complain… then I would have broken my daughter’s spirit and soured the blessing that she was trying to hand me. I could fix the broken kitchen in 30 minutes, but she would remember the moment that I overlooked her big act of kindness and love toward me to yell at her about open cabinets and splattered soy sauce on the floor, maybe for a lifetime. It just wasn’t worth it. So, instead of fussing and complaining, I began to help her.
“be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” - Ephesians 4:2
We often understand these words in the context of scripture. It makes perfect sense as it leaps off the pages of our bibles and dances in our hearts while we are enjoying the beauty of quiet time with Jesus in our bedrooms. We should do this! We will do this! That is our declaration because we almost always intend to be good reflections of Jesus on the earth, but somehow, we often miss it in real-time. It’s so clear that we need to bear one another in love when we read it, but does it ring true or even doable when someone does something to hurt us? When they do something more than destroy our kitchen in an attempt to love us? What about when they miss the mark and their actions rock an entire family, church or even a community? When a decision they have made reflects poorly on us individually or the Body of Believers at large, and outsiders call to question our faith or even our King? When yet another hypocrisy headline attempts to mar the character of the Church because some preacher, some leader, some person associated with us got it wrong.
Are we willing to bear with love then? Will we blow the hot winds of anger out of our mouths, or even worse; make cruel jokes or lengthy opinion posts on social media with everybody else? It’s so easy to find ourselves being critical of each other rather than caring, but God’s word instructs us to do the latter. So, whether it is something simple like my little kitchen story, something painful like a personal embarrassment or mishandling of trust, or if the actions of our brothers or sisters make national news, Ephesians 4:2 still applies. Yes, even when it hurts. Even when we don’t want to do it!
You see the thing is, every one of us will get our turn to sit in that seat. At one time or another in life we will all find ourselves in the place where our well-intended actions go wrong or our flat out bad judgement calls land us in the line of fire on a small or large scale, and when that happens, what we will want and need the most is to be handled with love.
Bearing one another in love is not a request, it is a commandment… a call… a cross, if you will. It is a requirement.
The more severe the offense is, the more our flesh doesn’t want to do it, but our instruction manual speaks in no uncertain terms that it must be done. So, at your next opportunity, (because in our fallen world these opportunities come early and often), instead of handling one another in anger or frustration, let us humble ourselves and be completely gentle and bear one another in love. Broken kitchens can be cleaned. Broken trusts, wounded egos and even broken hearts can be so well mended in Christ, but broken spirits are hard to recover from. Being handled with harshness, even if it is deserved, usually sends us away, but love draws us in.
That little moment with my daughter and taught me something about how I am supposed to love you. That it is more excellent for me to humble myself and love than to react in a way that could irreversibly wound my brother or sister. So, even in the frustration know that God has you so He also expects you to do what He would do and choose love. And although the pain of obeying this can sometimes range from mildly irritating to down-right excruciating, both of those feelings are temporary. The benefit of bearing one another in love springs eternal!
Have you been in a similar situation? How did you react and what was the outcome?
by Ronda Peck
Ronda "TruFiyah" is a mother, author, blogger, event curator and music enthusiast from Cincinnati, Ohio. In short, she's a creative, but that wasn't always a welcomed title. She often struggled to figure out how a Soul-music loving, romancing-writing Christian could exist and actually bring glory to God in a real way, but through the surrendering of her gifts back to the One Who gave them to her, she discovered that God really can use all things of our growth and His glory.