Today I did something I never do. I cooked.
In the past, my "cooking" has really been just "recipe-following" from a box: brownies, cookies, Kraft mac n' cheese. Box recipes are delicious and even necessary on certain days, but today I went OUTSIDE the box. (Pause for every snobby writer to throw up at my intentional use of cliche. HA!)
Today, I went beyond recipe-following and actually cooked for the first time. I experienced it like it should be experienced, like jazz, or art, or exploration.
"Following a recipe is like playing scales, but cooking is like playing jazz." -Shauna Niequist
Confession: I wholeheartedly admit that I have been inspired by Shauna Niequiest and her book Bread and Wine. If you've read the book and you're rolling your eyes thinking I'm pathetically trying to imitate her, you're right. But I believe there is something to be said for watching a person farther down the road of experience and imitating them. So call me a copy cat or call me an apprentice, call me a dreamer or call me a disciple--all are accurate in their own way, in their own time.
Anyway, I traveled home to Louisiana this weekend and decided to take advantage of our oven, my mom's Pampered Chef utensils, and a pantry full of usable ingredients. Oh, and Pinterest--always Pinterest.
Hollowed avocado with a thin layer remaining, shredded mozzarella, chopped bacon, fried eggs, eat with a spoon, not a fork. I tried both.
After I sleepily rolled out of bed, I decided to be creative for breakfast. I scrolled through some Pinterest recipes while my coffee was brewing and hungrily eyed the ripe avocados on the baker's rack. I triumphantly sliced the avocado in half and threw an egg into a frying pan, and the next thing I knew I couldn't stop. I was on a creative high, and I knew I wasn't coming down for a while. The whole morning was spent experimenting with random made-up ingredients, getting my hands super sticky, and going a little crazy with the manual food processor.
The kitchen was busy all morning
I talked and giggled to myself (no judgement please) as I deformed my first hard boil an egg, peeled the skin off of boiled almonds, crushed espresso beans with a spastic vengeance, and mixed maple syrup and oats with my bare hands. Who knew you could feel like a little kid and do grown-up, domestic things at the same time?
Avacado Deviled Eggs with the leftover avocado filling and bacon bits
I was having a blast despite my awkward fumbling around with the food and utensils. I completely stopped caring whether these experiments were going right or not because no one was watching. I was completely free to succeed or fail and no one would ever know. Being set free from that mental boundary let me learn some amazing things. I might actually be semi-good at cooking, and I actually like it!
Ask anyone who knows me, cooking has never been my forte. It has never been fun because I never saw the creativity within it. I had never cooked alone and had always feared the watchful eye of someone who would say, "No, no! Not that ingredient...Not with your hands...Not like that."
As I guilelessly chopped boiled almonds, half of them launching off the counter into no-man's land under the oven, I noticed a pattern within me.
My fear of other people' opinions suppresses so much of what I love. I care what they will think, what they will say, what they can do that I can't. For the longest time, I wouldn't sing in front of people or play piano because of that fear. Even today, I put myself on lock down when other people are watching because I fear ridicule for my failure. Same with cooking or sports or art or public speaking--you name it. When I feel threatened by fear, I put myself so deeply in the safe zone that I can't discover what I'm actually capable of.
Homemade Granola stored in a glass jar
This scares me because it reminds me of the man in Jesus' parable who was given one talent and then went and buried it because of fear. (Matthew 25:14-30)
Have I been burying my talent because of fear?
This is the question that had been nagging me for months, never-ending, dully clanging on my conscience.
But today the answer came loudly, amid the smash of the food processor and the clatter of dishes being tossed into the sink:
Yes, I totally have. And I never realized what I was missing!
Who ever said it was okay to play it safe? Who ever said failure was bad or shameful? Well, honestly, a lot of people--and especially me.
But spending this morning cooking in an empty kitchen feels a lot like singing in an empty building with no inhibitions or writing music in an empty house with no one listening. Unbridled freedom. And not to mention a ton of fun!
I am a play-it-safe kind of girl, and I always have been. But I'm realizing that we weren't given talents to play it safe. Playing it safe means I'm protecting my own glory. Mine.
But living in unbridled freedom comes from gazing on the glory that is infinite in brilliance, the glory that transforms us with every gaze, the glory that knew no sin but became sin so we might be God's righteousness. Man, that glory is so much more worshipful than my own! Suffering and failure is okay because it's not my glory I'm protecting. It's the Lord's glory I'm proclaiming.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18