Sundays have long been a day when I cook.
Some Sundays, I perform better than others.
This Sunday, with my kids on a quick trip away with Bray to the farm, I had big plans. I grocery-shopped early this morning with recipes in hand for this week’s menu for our family and for others.
I rarely have time to make more than two meals because of kid interference, but without interruption I was confident I could make progress.
In addition to the meals for our week, which is shaping up to be very busy, I wanted to deliver meals to a couple of other families who have had their hands full.
I don’t know if this is a result of living in the south or growing up in a preacher’s family, but I like to cook for people who could use some relief. After a baby comes or a divorce hits or during an illness or after a death, a meal is the only thing I feel like I can actually do. It was like that after the hurricane. I couldn’t take away all the loss and destruction, but I could feed people.
I need to do.
Here’s where this story goes down a little side trail, so hang with me.
Recently, my best friend started figuring out her Enneagram number which led me to investigate mine. None of the tests out there gave me the same result, but the best I could tell I was a Number 3.
After reading the description, this made some sense to me. The Achiever. Driven, success-oriented, image conscious. I think of this number as sort of the worst one you can get. And because I have struggled with pride for probably as long as I can remember character struggles, this assesment resonated. In my mind, being driven and struggling with pride meant I was selfish.
As I read on, each Enneagram type apparently has a “wing.” That is, as they explain: Your wing complements your primary type and adds important, sometimes contradictory, elements to your total personality. Your wing is your ‘second side’ of your personality.
No matter how I tested, Number 2 kept coming out as my wing. Now that one is The Helper. That person is generous. I couldn’t quite marry that type with how I saw the selfish part of myself.
Then, a few weeks ago, little bit and I were driving to one of my friend’s house to deliver a meal since she’d recently had her first baby. Little bit looked over at me and said, mommy, you’re always thinking about everyone else before yourself.
I cracked. While I held it together in that moment, when I was retelling the story to my best friend, I just cried. It’s like I got a glimpse of the good that God sees that I can’t see because my weaknesses block my view of the good. I told her, of course I’m a Wing 2, why am I having such a hard time with that? I love to help people. I love to volunteer to host parties for new kids at the school and take people meals and make sure teachers who are divorced get flowers and show up to organize clothes or food pantries.
I visited a church this morning where a dear friend of mine preached the service. A powerful message on our “origin story” – we are God’s beloved and we were made to be loved (and love others). She explained that so often all these negative messages we’ve gotten over the course of our lives drown out the message of our true worth and meaning. We can’t see our true value and God given purpose because we only see our weaknesses and failures.
Yes. All of that.
So what does all this have to do with my Sunday cooking?
I looked at these two extra pans of food. It took no real extra effort. I just made double batches of enchiladas and tetrazzini. Those pans reminded me of the goodness that God placed inside of me. The desire I have had, for basically ever, to help.
I can recognize that without any harmful pride, of which I still have plenty in other areas of my life. This is not a boast but a recognition of His grace in me. A tiny little way He allows me to love others since He has so lavishly loved me.
Their band sang a song with a refrain that says, I give myself away. I give myself away, so You can use me. I played it on repeat today as I cooked. We give ourselves away to be used by God. In whatever small ways we can find.
For whatever baggage there might be out there about women and kitchens, I sure found a lot of freedom in mine today.