Yesterday I did something extraordinary. I used an oven.
I love to cook. I really do. But I rarely do it. Dinner most nights consists of whatever I feel like throwing into a frying pan. It’s always ready in 5ish minutes. It’s always edible, but only occasionally delicious. I always give Ms. Roommate a fair warning before she picks up a fork to sample.
But going to a potluck requires one to reach beyond the frying pan. So I pulled out the recipe book, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work.
I was two minutes into my project when I felt myself calming from the inside out. Flour was flying, eggshells piling up in the strangest of places; the kitchen was beginning to resemble a classroom after an art class.
But while the room was cluttering, something inside of me was straightening. While the mixer whirred, my anxiousness settled. “This is therapy,” I thought to myself.
How can holding a spoon stir something so deeply within me? Follow my thought pattern here…
When you cook, you know that if you follow the recipe, you will get the product you’re aiming for. More or less, at least. When you separate an egg and beat the white, it will stiffen. When you add flour to hot milk, it will thicken. When you forget your cake in the oven for three hours, it will burn. When you mix butter, sugar, flour, and a few other necessary items together, you will get cookies.
Kinda nice to have a place to retreat to where formulas work. Where an outcome is known and expected. Where if you do X to Y, you will get Z.
It kinda seems like most things in life don’t work in such a predictable fashion. Yes, there are some laws, some formulas (sowing and reaping, for one), but mostly working with people, ourselves included, reminds us that there are not always formulaic solutions. A pep talk may inspire one and infuriate another. Sometimes we need a call-out; other times we need an extra dose of friendship.
In her song “Fireflies and Songs,” Sara Groves asks this question: “Were you surprised our hearts were not like ticking clocks, with faces and hands easy to read?” I’ve often thought about that line. About how we truly are not creatures of predictable formulas. About how we are wired to be relational, for we were made in the image of a relational Being. About how the ultimate revelation of Truth was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Not in a formula, or a three-step process, but in a relationship.
Goodness, we all know those things called relationships can get sticky. The can cut long and wound deep. And even after all of our love, care, and guidance, those we invest in ultimately have to make decisions for themselves.
But oh, how rich they can be. How much wealth we can acquire from them. How something can resound deeply within us, whispering “for this fellowship, we were made.”
So, I choose the friend over the formula in my relationships. I choose the adolescent over the egg shell in my career. And I choose to pursue a relationship with my Father rathern than demanding that He reveals the whole picture in my faith.
And every once in awhile, I’ll pull out the old mixer to satisfy the need for a formula within me.