On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray for…women and men to be increasingly conformed to the image of God, and that marriages would be granted to those who desire them.
As usual, I was running late. I had signed up to make a birthday cake as a surprise for a close friend at our weekly Bible study. Although it was a cake I’ve made many times, I didn’t have exactly the right size pan and so it was a bit of an adventure putting it another pan and guessing at the baking time. I started panicking when it wasn’t baking as quickly as I thought it should…and all I could think was, “Oh my. I’m either going to have no cake at all or a barely baked cake – and everyone will know that I’m no good at this!”
That internal fear was compiled with a coworker’s offhand comment made earlier in the day about not knowing that I can cook…my wounded pride now raised the stakes for the evening’s attempts at cake baking. I was not just baking a cake. I was proving a point, defending my family’s honor and three generations of caterers’ culinary legacy!
Looking at the clock and calculating my options, I decided I would have at least one successful dessert to bring in case the cake flopped. I pulled another recipe from the file and started whipping up my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, and in the middle of this culinary circus…a small voice:
Amy, why are you making cookies?
I HAVE TO.
Why do you “have to” make cookies?
BECAUSE I’M AFRAID.
Afraid of what?
I DON’T KNOW. LEAVE ME ALONE. I HAVE TO MAKE COOKIES.
The cake is enough. Why don’t you sit down and rest, and just quiet yourself before tonight?
THE CAKE MIGHT FAIL. MUST HAVE BACK UP PLAN. ALSO, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT I’M MAKING COOKIES???
This internal dialogue repeated itself almost verbatim several times, but I didn’t stop. I plowed through making the cookies…even though they were still baking when I should have been leaving for Bible study.
Later as I was reflecting on the situation, a question came back to me from a recent counseling seminar I’d attended: Are you living a hyper-vigilant life that is exhausting you? It might be because you’re living life like an orphan – expecting no one to protect you or provide for you, and having to figure out and make life work on your own. You’ve lost touch with God as your loving Father.
Hi. I’m Amy and I’m an oatmeal cookie orphan. Living like every burden is on me — to be constantly proving that I’m enough, I’m worthy, I’ve got what it takes. Even when it comes to non-essential things like cakes…which somehow become an identity showdown. What a sad commentary on the state of my heart – and what a small view of God’s goodness to me. The reality is that even though I know I’ve been adopted into God’s family (head knowledge), I’m often still functionally living like an orphan (heart).
My questions this week for my own heart are: Where am I fearfully living like an orphan? Where am I placing my identity in something other than Christ? Where do I think I need to have a backup plan in case God doesn’t work out? Where am I ignoring God’s voice because I’m panicky and trying to exert control over others or their opinions, instead of resting when He asks me to rest? What truth do I need to let soak into the core of my being about my sure spot in God’s family of adopted children or His care for me?
There are many spots in my heart around dating, singleness and the desire for marriage that also fit this pattern. Places where I am still functionally acting like an orphan who needs to get life to work properly — not a beloved child in relationship with a good Father who gives His children good gifts (Matt 7:9-11). God wants a relationship with us – not just nice external outcomes and accomplishments.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
In His Grace,
PS: The poetic justice of the cookies story is that I dumped in a bit too much oatmeal, and the cookies were far too crunchy and practically inedible. I had to throw them (and my pride) in the trash when I got home.