Thursday, February 10, 2011

Story Bible Moms: Mashed Potato Soup

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred. Proverbs 15:17 (NIV)

Have you ever read the book of Proverbs? It's full of pithy little sayings, one after another, with few apparent connections. Some of them are really well known: Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Prov. 13:24. (My opinions of this verse will be saved for another day.) Some are downright weird (although they might be true): Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. Prov. 11:22.

But there are some real gems of beauty and wisdom tucked into this little book of the Bible, and one of my favorites is this verse about humble vegetables served with love being better than an extravagant feast served with hatred. I think I like this verse so much because I know that it's true. I'll bet you know exactly what I mean. Think about a meal you have had where there was stony silence, or awkward small talk, or no one would quite get to the point of how they were really feeling. You couldn't think about the food, even if it was good, because you were so caught up in the emotionally charged atmosphere around the table.

Perhaps you can remember a holiday meal, a Christmas dinner or someone's milestone birthday, where people have spent all day in the kitchen preparing a huge feast. The table is set with the best tablecloth and the china and the real silver. There is an enormous spread of food. Everyone sits down to the table, but the afternoon has already been too long. Maybe Aunt and Uncle had a spat about whether or not watching the football game was a good idea. And Junior is unhappy because he'd rather be playing video games. And you know, your sister is being don't think you're going to speak to her for the rest of the night, even if it means you can't ask her to pass the butter. Grandma tries to get everyone to talk about something innocuous, like the weather, but it just doesn't work. Everyone just shovels down all that good food so they can hurry back home.

Now think about the simplest dinner: mac and cheese from a box, or frozen pizza, or yesterday's leftovers...nothing special or fancy, but the whole family was there, conversation was good, and everyone was just happy to be spending some time together. There is laughter and everyone lingers a little at the table, even when all the food is gone.

When Jonathan and I were very, very newlyweds (think weeks after the wedding), I was attempting to make mashed potatoes for supper. By a slip of the hand holding the milk jug, they turned into mashed-potato-soupy-mess. I was so disappointed, and supper was ruined, and it turned into one of those things where I sat on the kitchen floor and cried. After much persuasion from Jonathan, who insisted that he liked potato soup (which he does not, by the way), it came out that although I wished I hadn't ruined the potatoes, what I was really upset about was an upcoming exam, and moving to a new state, and for goodness sakes, we'd only been married for a few weeks, and it was all rather overwhelming!

I don't even remember if we ate those potatoes, but I do remember what a relief it was to have someone's shoulder to cry on. How much it mattered that someone loved me, even if the dinner turned out bad and we had to dig in the couch cushions for $2 to eat at the pizza dive down the street. That love trumped a perfectly executed meal. Incidentally, "it's not about the mashed potatoes" has become a proverb spoken often in our household, meant to clarify that whatever stupid thing I'm acting upset about is just a front from something else that's actually bothering me.

Old Solomon had this one right on the money, didn't he? It is so better to have a small serving of vegetables (or Easy Mac) where love is, than pull out all the stops, roast the fatted calf, and sit around the table glowering at each other.

1 comment:

  1. I miss you Siobhan! This reminds me of some of your sermons - simple, and full of heart - keep posting, I will try to keep viewing!! Hope all is well out there! Love Hannah's room!!!


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