On Burned Soup

My daughter was hungry. She was cranky and in desperate need of her midday nap. So I heated the soup for her lunch. While it was doing so, a thought came to my head that oh-so-desperately needed to find expression!

I ran to the computer, scrambled around for the keyboard and mouse, and started typing. While I was still forming the thought into words, my daughter tried to get my attention, whining about something that I cannot remember now. What I do remember is, the smell of smoke. I wrinkled my nose, and was disgusted at the neighbors for not keeping their cigarette smoke to themselves. All the while, I told my little girl to stop whining and just wait patiently for lunch, while I tried to desperately compose and type my thoughts into the computer. 

Then it hit me. I have left a pot of soup on the burner!

I ran crazily to the kitchen and quickly turned off the burner. But the damage was done. Half of the soup was burned black and the other half tasted like smoked charcoal (if ever you have tasted one). There was nothing we could do but throw the black soup away.

I was festering mad. Now I had to find lunch for my little girl! I wanted so much to stomp my foot while marching angrily around the kitchen. But I, regretfully, didn't do that. Instead, I told my girl that she should have not whined while mama was busy. That she should have stayed quiet in the corner and waited for me to finish doing what I was doing. And all of these was said in a tone with exclamation marks, looking just like these !!!.

For a certain, I was being unfair. But my little girl didn't know that. What she could clearly see was that I was upset. She cried in remorse and said, "Sorry, mama," over and over again. My poor innocent girl. What a mean mama she has. It made me feel so horrible. It wasn't her fault that I could not formulate my thoughts. It wasn't, unquestionably, her fault that I jumped to conclusion, mistaking the burning soup to be the neighbor's cigarette smoke... and didn't get to turn the burner off in time. And more so that, it wasn't her fault that the soup burned... well, because she was whining. 

Now it was me who was sorry. I took her in my arms and apologized for blaming her for something that was definitely not her fault. None of it were.

When I admitted that, I saw that it was my fault. Nobody else's. Not my daughter's. Not my neighbor's. 

From there, I have a choice to move from point A to B. I can continue to be in denial and blame everybody; or I can move on to realizing and admitting my fault, to accepting responsibility.

How many times have I wallowed in pity parties because things aren't what I wanted them to be, blaming other people for my existence--- my children aren't obedient enough, my husband is not sensitive to my needs, people aren't appreciative, God is too harsh, etc, etc. How many times have I clearly wanted to be a good mom, yet fall so many times in moments like these? And what about wanting to be a loving, serving wife and instead coming across as indifferent and cold? One doesn't have to play 'spot the difference' for it is unmistakable that there is a difference between what I want to be and what I am at the moment.

It is easier to burn that soup than to heat it properly and serve it lovingly to my daughter, yes? No. But even how hard we try, there will be times when we do have our failing moments. They are not times meant to discourage us, but to awaken us to take responsibility for our actions and make something out of it. It sure is not easier to make something out of that burned soup though, or to throw it away regretfully; but one thing for sure, it would be easier for me not to burn soup again.

"The reason lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn't there the second time," so wrote Willie Tyler. Aren't we glad we have second chances? We have a forgiving God. One who expects nobility from us and treats us like one.

In turn, we are given the opportunity to be forgiving towards each other too. It doesn't mean that when a friend forgot to call when promised, she is a bad friend. She could have a hectic, crazy schedule. And it doesn't mean that when you happen to see a woman's child act out in the restaurant, that that woman is a neglectful mother. Or that, a child is stubborn and outspoken doesn't mean she is meant for hell. Or that the neighbor has planned in detail how to annoy you for the rest of your life.

All of us have our bad moments. All of us were supposed to be destined for death. But One-so-good saw something that we clearly could not see, poured out His life for us, and now we have our second chance.

In this second chance, it is His desire that we pour our lives in some way for those He came to save. And we cannot do that with simply seeing in others what they are. What we need is to look at them for who our Creator and Savior created and meant them to be, the same way we see a bountiful tree when we look at a seed.

Our Creator desires us to treat our children not as naughty individuals, but as citizens of His kingdom; our failing husbands as heads of our families; our fickle friends as part of the body of Christ just as we are; and those annoying people next door as neighbors.

And my defective self? A child of God (Galatians 3:26). Though how many times I may burn soup, God's word is sure that I will always have that identity. I may be rough at the edges but it is God who gives me significance. I can be myself, be authentic and find that I can always trade my moments of failure and despair with His plan for me--- a splendid life. 

In place of burned intentions or dreams, He can supply us with:

"A crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
(We) will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
(Isaiah 61:3, modified) 

I'm sure God's splendid life for us tastes better than my burned soup.

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