My family trained me to function as a somewhat organized and clean person, but by nature I thrive in a big mess. While I love order and clean spaces, I am notorious for my big projects or ideas exploding into spaces as I work through the creative process.
Like the time my nephew’s nautical shower overtook the back room of my house. Or when my entire floor was covered with t-shirt remnants for a week in high school as I created a patchwork quilt. Or almost every Saturday morning in my apartment when my quest to bake the perfect biscuit leaves little trails around the kitchen.
Baking gives me life. Feels dramatic to type that, but it does. Growing up my mom always baked. Whether we were making Christmas plates filled with goodies for my dad’s office, a new cake recipe she pulled out of Southern Living, cookie dough for the freezer (because there should always be cookie dough in the freezer) or biscuits on Saturday morning – my mother passed on her joy of baking to me.
My mother and her mother always baked with me. They would show me how to gather the ingredients, read a recipe, and how to not actually follow a recipe. Even now as an adult I always find myself learning something new when I’m in the kitchen.
At some point in my adult life, I decided to get really great at baking a biscuit from scratch. Maybe I chose biscuits because it takes only a few staple ingredients. Maybe because I unashamedly love a great biscuit. I am not actually sure why, but this quest generally takes over part of my Saturday mornings. And I won’t lie, I am pretty great at baking a biscuit from scratch.
Recently, I found myself in the kitchen making biscuits when I had a baking epiphany. I pulled out all of the ingredients and set them on the counter, which always makes me feel like I am on an important cooking show despite my dishes not matching, wearing no make-up and drinking my coffee out of some weird mug I painted.
I love the moment when you see all of the ingredients sitting out together and you just know, you are going to change them from single ingredients, somewhat methodically mix them together and create something totally different than what you see in that moment. Y’all this is my big Saturday morning rush and I have zero intention of changing it.
As I started mixing up the ingredients without looking at the recipe instinct kicked in and I realized about halfway through the recipe, I did not look at the recipe. Over time I memorized the recipe without trying, it just became part of me. Feeling another rush of success, I wondered if my time with biscuits had peaked and I had learned all I could from my time with this ratios of ingredients. Should I move on?
I moved the sticky dough to floured cutting board to kneed it as I tried to think what I could effortlessly throw my minimal talents behind next. As I grabbed the flour dusted glass I use as a rolling pin, again my cooking show is very fancy, I began to roll the dough out. As I did, the dough puffed a big cloud of flour all over the kitchen. I still have no idea how and do not think I could ever recreate this moment successfully.
Begrudgingly I finished cutting out the biscuits and popped them into the oven. My mom taught me the importance of cleaning up as you go, so I grew very annoyed that now I had a big mess to clean up. Gathering up flour on the floor and from cracks in the cabinets I realized biscuits still had a lot to teach me about life.
Despite having nearly perfected the recipe and executing biscuits with ease, I stood up to see all the flour still somehow covering the floor. Life with Christ is like baking. He takes us and all of our experiences, talents, faults, fears and He mixes them up as only He can. And slowly He changes us into something else.
The process of God creating something new in and through us can get really messy. He might use unlikely tools like a drinking glass as a rolling pin, but somehow He takes our mess and makes it into something enticing and worth sharing with others.
This simple epiphany left me seeing all the little messes from my baking excursion as signs of growth and action instead of annoyances I needed to clean up. Never fear, I did clean them up but my perspective shifted. The process of baking is cathartic and a creative release for me. But in life the process of refinement in Christ always makes me uncomfortable and annoyed.
But, what if we shifted our perspective to see the refinement process as an opportunity to create something new, even if it is messy or harder than anticipated? This small shift caused me to experience a little bit more joy in the mess of life.