Last night I think I had my first instance of my husband teaching me something about God. People say that this sort of thing happens–your spouse and your children end up teaching you profound things about God without even knowing it.
This is what happened:
My hubby’s been sick with the flu this week. He is feeling better, but I guess he didn’t feel like cooking last night, which was understandable. However, usually he is the one cooking at our house. Growing up, my mom never really taught me how to cook. I can follow recipes, and that’s about it. Before I moved out of the house, I had to beg her to write down some of her recipes for me. I just started cooking for myself about 4 years ago–it was the first time I had a kitchen and no cafeteria food from school. Granted, with my only guinea pig being myself, I wasn’t too picky. What I made would’ve had to been absolutely disgusting for me to not eat it. And as for cooking methods–well, as long as it got cooked, what was the problem? I would plan out my meals for the week, go to the store and get the ingredients needed, and block out half a day or so to get whatever it was actually prepared.
Contrast this, if you will, to my hubby. I would have no trouble believing that he has been cooking since he was 4 (whether this is actually the case or not, I don’t know). If you’ve ever seen the T.V. show Chuck, there’s a character there called Captain Awesome; as you might guess, he is awesome at everything he does. In some ways, my husband is kinda like that. He’s not perfect, but he has lived decades more experience of life than I have, and he’s only 4 years older than me. He’s worked in preschool, restaurants, nursing homes, you name it. So his cooking skills are far superior to say, mine. He takes pride in his cooking, as he should. Unlike me, he doesn’t need time to plan; he can whip up something on the spot. Did I mention he can bake cakes, too? Like a 15 lb. death-by chocolate cake, or a cheesecake? And he can do piping and roses? Yeah. So, when you put someone like him in a kitchen with someone like me, it doesn’t take long for him to see me butchering something and feel the need to intervene. It wasn’t long into our marriage before the cooking just sort of became his thing. I guess it’s easier to do it right the first time yourself than have to redo stuff with someone else. I always felt bad for screwing up what he was trying to do, so I was pretty relieved for the “way out;”–that could be at least one area where I wouldn’t be a disappointment. He told me that if he ever didn’t feel like cooking, he’d let me know, and I could do it.
So, all this being said, you can imagine my nerves last night when he informed me that I was cooking. The options were either quesedillas or butter chicken. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough chicken for butter chicken (that would’ve been great, as you only have to cook chicken and then dump the mix in it), so I had to make quesedillas. I have consumed tons of quesedillas, but nobody’s ever taught me how to make them (it wasn’t in my mom’s book; she never made anything other than tacos). I knew the general idea: cook some chicken and onions, put it on a tortilla, put cheese on somehow and melt it, and fold it in half and cut it. However, I didn’t really know the mechanics of how everything worked. But I thought I should try. I put some oil in the skillet (way more than necessary, I later found out), put the chicken in with some burrito seasoning, put in (white) onions, and cooked it. Once it was cooked, I realized I had waaaay to much oil. I drained it out best I could, and then told him I needed help figuring out how the cheese works (he was immersed in a video game, so I had to ask 3 times before he actually heard me).
He came in, saw what I had done, and sighed. He said he’d thought that i knew how to make quesedillas, which I had to confess I didn’t. He told me where I had gone wrong (I only needed a couple drops of oil, if that; also, most people use green onions rather than white onions), and he stepped in and completed the job, adding spices and cheese, and instructing me about what he was doing and why. It was helpful. But of course, I still felt bad for screwing up such a seemingly simple dinner. He told me, “Don’t feel bad. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s part of the learning process.” I said, “I know, but I wish I could’ve made these mistakes before, so that you didn’t have to see them and deal with them.”
I’ll stop the story there. Last night’s quesedilla flub stuck with me, and as I was washing dishes today, my statement was echoing in my head, and I realized my attitude with my husband has some parallels to my attitude with God. The Christian life is a journey, and we all make mistakes along that journey. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you’ll automatically not screw up. It means that you feel conviction when you do, and you’re given grace to move on. I became a Christian as a very young kid, so I’ve lived most of my life with that belief system. Yet I’ve had some screwups, even as a Christian, that I’m not proud of. That I continue to beat myself up for. That I know I should’ve known better than to fall into. Thinking back on it after last night, I realize I say the same to God: “If I had to make these mistakes, I wish I could’ve made them before I became a Christian, so that You didn’t have to see them.” (I realize that God sees everything, but at least I wouldn’t have to drag His name in the dirt with me.) When you make those mistakes in a pre-Christian life, it’s more excusable because, well, you weren’t a Christian. You didn’t know any better. But I struggle giving myself grace for screwups made in the last few years, because I should’ve known better. God says it’s all part of the learning process, but I’m still beating myself up because years into the “marriage,” so to speak, I’m learning that I don’t know how to make quesedillas after all.
I’m not sure what this will mean in terms of forgiving myself and letting myself move on, but it was definitely enlightening to see that parallel of me being hard on myself playing out not just in my spiritual life, but in my personal life.