So… Yesterday I found myself having a conversation with my four year old son about meat. I was completely unprepared for this, and hadn’t done any prior research on how to talk to a sensitive child who is at best description a ‘selective eater’, about why humans eat meat. Frankly, I was enjoying a rare moment of watching something on TV which was not an animated adventure story aimed at children. Little did I know that The Hairy Bikers were about to create an awkward (albeit brief) conversation for me. “Urgh Mummy! He just said he’s going to cook meat! But meat is what animals eat…urgggh look at it!” “Erm… Yes animals do eat meat, but so do some humans.. The difference is that the animal would eat the meat just like it is there- see? But if you watch, you’ll see how he’s going to cook it and make it nice.” “Oh… So do you hunt for meat then Mummy?” (I stifle a grin) “No sweetheart, we buy meat from the food shops, where it has been properly prepared by a butcher” “A butcher!?? What’s a butcher?!!” “Somebody who’s been trained to kill the animal in a nice way that doesn’t hurt them, and choose us the safe bits of meat to eat” …His horrified eyes go wide “They KILL ANIMALS?!?!!!!”… I changed the channel.
Today, I woke up feeling rather unwell, but that didn’t deter my children from insisting that nothing was suitable for breakfast except for pancakes. I currently have a love/hate relationship with cooking. I love my brilliant fan oven, whilst hating my electric hob. I much prefer gas hobs, and haven’t as yet mastered the knack of making edible pancakes on this electric one. So in an attempt to make life easier for myself, I diverted their attention to the shiny new ‘waffle stick maker’ I’d purchased in a sale last week. Having never made waffles before, I figured this would be the easier option for breakfast. Oh how wrong was I?!! First of all, anyone who knows me will know that I barely ever read a recipe, and I definitely don’t read instruction manuals for gadgets or machines. My philosophy tends to be that life is too short, so I’ll plug it in and see what happens…. Turned out that I should have followed the waffle recipe, because it actually was important to separate the egg yolks from the whites, whereas I’d briefly noted ‘2 large egg’s and chucked them in. Oops. Also, having the – err- ‘help’ of a two year old somehow caused me to miss the recommended amount of batter to place into the waffle iron… After giving in and reading the relevant paragraph, I discovered I’d put twice as much as was necessary, which explained why the waffle sticks weren’t cooking properly. Big oops.
So… What’s my point? Why have I told you these things?
My initial point is that we need to be prepared for awkward conversations to pop up in our everyday lives, and we need to be better equipped to handle them. Turning the TV channel over may have saved my bacon (ha) from being interrogated by a four year old on the process of meat preparation; but when a school friend or colleague asks us directly about something we take for granted as being ‘normal’, or about our beliefs on tricky or controversial subjects, then changing the channel isn’t a viable option.
My second point is that part of being prepared for those situations is to read the manual!! God has given us a book with all the answers and ‘instructions’ (for lack of a better word) in it. The more we take time to teach ourselves properly, and to be aware of the necessary steps to take in whatever new ventures come our way, the less likely we are to mess up and have to start at the beginning again. Also- if we try to cut corners and make life easier for ourselves, then actually we may just end up getting ourselves in a big mess! So when we’re asked to provide something specific (pancakes) and we try to wriggle out of it by taking what we think is a shortcut to providing something similar (waffles), maybe that’s when we’ll end up in one big sticky mess! If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well…and if you’re anything like me you’ll need reminding of that again and again 😉
So where was the ‘mercy’ in the middle of all of this? The first glimpse of mercy was that the topic of butchery was dropped, rather than me being asked tricky questions every five seconds for the next 24 hours 😉 … But the main thing I realised in all of this was that even in the midst of a stressful messy waffle batter situation, I could see the joy and fun on my sons’ faces as they took delight in cooking their breakfast; and of course neither of them got poisoned or burnt: always a bonus 😉 🙂 … So no matter what sticky mess you may feel you’ve gotten yourself into, remember there’s a loving God who’s watching over you to keep you from harm, and to clean you up and give you a fresh start. Tonight I’m grateful that the Bible tells us “His mercies are new every morning”. And I’m grateful for the tin of already-made waffle sticks awaiting consumption in my kitchen, so I’m spared from that sticky process again tomorrow 😉