“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
This morning two of my girls were home and I was happy to prepare one of their favourites while they were still sleeping… waffles. I am one who is guilty of “artistic” interpretations. My creative side makes it hard for me to follow a recipe exactly but in the world of bakers, I think that is common, and even an asset. I know from watching my mother bake bread that while there was a basic set of ingredients, the recipe always allowed for a bit of tweaking. You felt out how the dough or batter was developing and added whatever was needed to get things just right.
In the making of anything, your basic tools are to a purpose and function. Making waffles or pancakes a few times teaches you that each ingredient is responsible for a different property. One glues everything together. Another ingredient makes everything fluffy. Another allows for crispness and browning. It is good to see every ingredient as something that can be a more or less approach. You understand that you have to be flexible enough to deviate when necessary from what is black and white in the pages of the recipe book. Some people might call that a weakness, but when looking toward an outcome, it is realistic and goal oriented.
Most projects in life inevitably go through some kind of ugly phase where it looks like all could be lost. Something will come up that needs fixing, and the prudent will find this an opportune moment to stop and refocus, to rejig plans as needed. Flexibility has pulled a lot of projects which were in trouble, out of the proverbial dumpster.
Flexibility is also key to bringing along people, who must cooperate willingly if you plan to get anywhere. You can’t sweat the small stuff. You are going to lose a few battles in order to win the war with any long-term goal. Also, nothing happens quickly when it comes to people - ask any social worker or parent who had to learn to be patient and to nurture and protect any gains along the way.
The Biblical story of Mary and Martha, is a tale of the flexible approach vs rigidity. Martha was a by-the-book rules kind of person. She had a tight view of arrangements that could make her a bit shrill and critical, it seems. She complained to Jesus that her sister was not holding up her end of the work, and Jesus answered, that Mary had discovered the one thing necessary in the end. That one thing has been speculated upon in sermons and commentaries. Some have pinpointed it as love, but I think it is a willingness to bend acccording to what is most needed. To be served food was not the most important thing going on in that gathering.
Having kids drives home this truth. I recall one lady I worked with who railed about rules for kids, and how some parents are just really, really dumb. This all unwound later on after she had her own children, and like myself, found out that kids are a cure for hubris. They show you that one approach will never work for all. Every kid is a situational exercise that requires tweaking to get the best results. I have three kids and I have seen that lesson in spades. I think that God also deals with individuals differently. Ask any believer and they will provide a different recipe on their road to belief. They were drawn as only the Holy Spirit could understand and interpret the human heart.
That lady and myself sometimes trade stories about raising kids and I think we are both a bit more humble these days. I am reminded when tweaking the waffle batter, just how many things in life must bend a bit or be rearranged when we are pushing on toward a distant goal. I know the basic recipe and God grant me the sensitivity to know when the batter has to be tweaked for the sake of the whole batch.