Follow the recipe they said…

My whole life I was careful to “follow the recipe “. I went to church, obeyed my parents (mostly), was generous, kind, didn’t break the law, prayed, got baptized, read my bible and memorized scripture. I chose my friends wisely, I kept myself pure for my husband, I didnt swear or drink or smoke. I married a man I met at Bible school ( I mean what better place to secure a godly man right?)I followed the “Good Christian” recipe. Wow, go me!!

I believed that by following the Christian recipe,  God would bless me with a good life. I would marry a man who would love God and love me. I would have children who loved God and I would serve God in a ministry that He would guide me to. I had great dreams of a family full of love, laughter and joy.

And yet my life looks more like this misshapen and ugly cookie than the picture on the recipe card promised. Here I am divorced, alone, dealing with emotionally damaged children, and my own mental and emotional brokenness. Not pretty.

(This is where I would love to say that I made those cookies ugly on purpose but alas, it would be a lie). For some reason no matter how hard I try, how exact I follow the recipe, my cookies never turn out beautiful. Now cakes, that is a different matter! I am great at cakes and pies (just had to throw that in there to make myself feel better, ha!)

For over a decade I tried to make the cookies of my life look beautiful, I tried to improve myself to be more pleasing to my guard but also to God, for surely He must not be pleased with me if my life looks like this. There must be something terribly wrong with me to have deserved the constant, heart wrenching, onslaught of abuse. Something about me that did not deserve to hold my baby girl before she slipped into heaven, or be loved by the man to whom I gave my whole life.  I would think of all the times I messed up in my teenage years, the time I let someone gossip, without speaking up in defense of the other person, or the time I let a boy I hardly know kiss me, or the times I was unkind to someone…could those things be why I was being punished now? Maybe I didnt follow the recipe well enough.

Time and distance from a situation tend to bring clarity. I understand now that there are no guarantees in life. There is no “perfect” way to live life in order to avoid suffering. And indeed suffering while pursuing righteousness, brings deep joy and peace. So suffering in and of itself is not bad, even though the enemy loves to trap us into thinking it is a punishment, in reality, it is one of Gods greatest ways to reveal himself to us. And there is no greater gift than that!

My life did not end up ugly or a mess because of my imperfections. Life in this world is broken, it is not as it was designed to be. People are broken. Some seek healing and find it, others seek to bury their pain and lash out at others who are in their way. Some seek Christ, others do not.

I chose Christ. I chose to dive into healing, being vulnerable and honest and well, ugly.  So I can look at my poor excuse for a cookie and be thankful. It might be ugly but it tastes delicious. My suffering changed me, it left me looking misshapen and scarred but God is pleased with me because I chose Him above all else. He looks at my crumbs and smiles because he is using those crumbs to feed others and to bring Him glory.

So I will be proud of my ugly cookies. I survived, it might not have been pretty, but I did survive. And that is beautiful. 

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