Living in South Carolina for 6 months taught me one thing. Whenever someone is facing a hard time, bring them a meal.
A death in the family? Bring a meal.
Moving? Bring a meal.
Newborn baby that won’t sleep? Bring a meal.
So when my dear friend, mother of 7, broke her ankle while going for a run, (dear Lord) it was a no-brainer.Thankfully I already had a double portion of Ropa Vieja in the crock pot.
The next day she sent me this text:
“You’re a really really really good cook.”
I had to laugh. Basically I dumped five different ingredients into a crock pot and walked away for 10 hours. I don’t know if that qualifies for culinary genius. But if I were to take credit for anything it would be this. After 14 years of cooking for my family, I have developed a good sense of how to pick a recipe. Oftentimes I will have a craving, google a dish, and sort through a few recipes looking for the one that best suits our tastes. But nearly every time I will have to make some minor changes. Some are too spicy, so I leave out the red pepper. Some have processed ingredients, so I make some healthier substitutions.
Being the best cook you can be is mostly about finding the right recipe.
Just like being the best person you can be is mostly about finding the right friends.
So much of who I am is because of the friends that God had placed in my life. In other words, these friends make me look better than I really am.
Somebody once told me, “You are a really good mom.” But the truth is I am only half the mom my mother was to me. I just had a really good recipe.
Somebody once told me, “You are really funny.” But the truth is I’m only half as funny as my friends Julie and Amy. I just found a really good recipe.
Someone once told me, “You are a really good listener,” But the truth is I’m only half the listener that my friend Carrie is. I just found a really good recipe.
Someone once told me, “You are very organized.” (this really happened once I swear!) But the truth is I followed a mentor step by step. I had a really good recipe
It is a well-known fact that you will become like the people with whom you surround yourself. In Proverbs 13:20 we read that he who walks with wise men will be wise.
Another important aspect of being a good cook is realizing that few recipes are a perfect fit. For instance in the Ropa Vieja recipe, I decided to leave out the ketchup. I had olives instead of pepper, so I added those. Even though the initial recipe wasn’t perfect, I knew that I could overlook the differences and take from it what was good.
This is also true of my friendships. Even my dearest friends have attributes that I could do without. Maybe some are a little spicier than I am comfortable with or a little too processed! Ha! But in my 30+ years of choosing friends, I have come to learn that I have a lot to learn, and God has placed these people in my life to teach me. However if I throw away a good relationship because of a spicy character trait, I could be missing a huge opportunity.
One truth we cannot deny is that opposites attract. This is a blessing in disguise. God knows I need organized people in my life to learn from. However they may have other attributes that could possibly.. maybe… slightly.. kind of annoy me. (Sorry it’s true.) And sometimes you have to ignore those feelings and move on! If you only ever cook chicken nuggets because they are easy and you know you like them, well… you are just plain missing out on life! Similarly, if you only befriend people that are just like you, you will never become who God intends for you to be.
Of course there are situations when a relationship is simply unhealthy, and you really do need to walk away for a period of time, maybe even a long period of time. But more often than not, when it is just a common every day disagreement, you may find that if you stash a recipe away, you may acquire a taste for it later when your taste buds have matured. Sometimes you discover that if you just take an antacid after a spicy meal you can tolerate it better! Some recipes are on the regular weekly rotation, and some are just for every once and a while.
Sanctification is a long and arduous process. Thankfully God chose to use sweet (and spicy) friendships to bring us closer to him. If you throw a whole recipe out because of one ingredient you will be missing out on becoming a great cook. Likewise if you regularly discard friendships because of a quirk, a weakness, or a difference, you will miss out on walking in the fullness of who God has designed you to be. For two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.