I come from a long line of excellent cooks. Gifted, southern women who make flaky dinner rolls from scratch, who know how to make chocolate pie with up-to-there meringue, who can create heavenly kitchen scents to bring the manliest soldier to his knees. This is my heritage.
I am the black sheep of the family.
It’s not that I can’t cook. I just don’t need to cook. My mother cooks, my brother cooks, my sister-in-law cooks . . . and I don’t want to steal their joy. So I step back and let them create their sumptuous miracles. I’m content to stand in the shadows and sneak bites.
But my dear mother, bless her heart, has not given up on me. She still instructs me in all things kitchen, revealing to me the deep family secrets in hopes her legacy will live on. It seems so important to her that of course, I pretend to listen. That's why tonight, when she instructed me in the proper way to prepare and cook asparagus, I did what any upright, God-fearing daughter would do.
I wrinkled my nose and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
She wasn’t kidding. Standing at the kitchen sink, she showed me how to wash the green stalks, then bend them in the middle until they broke in two. She told me to throw the ends in the trash. Again, I looked at her in dismay. The conversation went something like this:
Me: You’re joking.
Her: No. Why would I joke about that?
Me: But you’re throwing nearly half of it in the trash.
Her: That’s the tough part. It’s not any good. You only want to keep the tender part.
I held my tongue. After all, we were talking about asparagus. Nasty, mushy asparagus. None of it was any good.
I followed her directions, drizzling the tender pieces with olive oil, then sprinkling with salt. I heated them in a skillet for three minutes, turned them, and let them cook three more minutes. They were still crispy and barely seared on the edges. Mom pronounced them done.
I scrunched my face, squeezed my eyes shut, and took a bite.
It was heavenly.
All these years, I’ve avoided asparagus. If I'd only known how to cook it properly. If I'd only known to bend it to the breaking point and throw away the tough part. If I'd only known you’re not supposed to cook it ‘til it’s mush.
Sometimes I feel like God’s bending me too far. Sometimes I think He’s trying to break me, and I don’t want to be broken. And sometimes, I’m certain He’ll turn me into mush. But now that I’ve tasted that heavenly asparagus, I wonder if God doesn’t have some delicious plans in mind for my life.
It’s not His intention to break us beyond repair. When He allows us to get to the breaking point, it’s because He wants to set us free from things in our lives that are useless and tough. He wants only the sweet, crisp part to remain.
He won’t cook us until we're mush, either. He's the Master Chef, and He wants to create a masterpiece. He knows what He’s doing, and if we let Him, He'll make something heavenly of our lives.
Before we know it, we'll realize the tough parts only weighed us down and kept us from meeting our potential. But we’ll only get to that point if we trust Him completely, and allow Him to take us to the breaking point.
Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.