Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Rising of Bread and Souls

Several years ago I decided to bake bread. It seemed calming, productive, and something to do to help squelch the fears and anxiety building up inside me while my girls were away for the weekend on a court ordered visit. So, bread.

Friday night I sifted through recipes online and picked the one I could just tell would be perfect. I left my little house in the country to walk up and down grocery store aisles: flour, yeast, fresh butter for when it was complete. I was hopeful. Excited. And ready.

Saturday morning I began measuring ingredients into the ceramic bowl, careful to use the wooden spoon and not the metal. I shaped the dough into a ball, covered the bowl and began the wait. The magic of rising was about to begin.

All day I cleaned. I mopped floors and organized little girl t-shirts by size and color. I vacuumed the rug and scrubbed the bathroom sink. I dusted mini blinds and washed bed linens. And then I pulled out a magazine to flip through while I waited for the final moments before I could finally put the dough in the oven.

Except it wasn't ready.

It wasn't even close to being ready.

It hadn't changed at all.

I had done all that work, all that hoping, all that planning, wasted all that excitement for a ball of wet dough too pathetic to rise.

I tossed the good-for-nothing dough in the garbage can and slammed the lid shut.

I had failed.

I went upstairs, threw myself on my bed and cried. Cried over bread. Cried over my children. Cried over what my life was: a single mom barely getting by.

I couldn't even make bread.

The next morning I awoke tired and spent before the day even began. I shuffled through my morning not really doing anything at all.

And then I went to throw something away.

I pushed down on the foot pedal of the trash can and watched the lid open... inside was the most astounding sight! The dough from the night before had risen! Risen in astronomical size! The entire kitchen garbage can was filled with expanding dough! How was it that the secret to getting that dough to rise was to be thrown into the bottom of a dark pit and seemingly forgotten?!

Since then I've learned a few things. I've learned that just like bread dough we need time set aside to just be still before we can be made into the final product. I've learned that sometimes the most growth we will ever experience will come after we've been thrown into a dark pit and seemingly forgotten. And I've learned that we're never actually forgotten but rather there is a timing element that we don't always understand and the enemy uses that time of wait to whisper lies to make us feel forgotten.

God takes each one of us in His hands and puts everything we need into our hearts and minds. He measures the ingredients of trust and honesty and love and compassion and gratitude and grit and strength and self-discipline... everything we need. And then He waits and watches while we decide to rise. He watches while we try and decide the best way to rise: do we respond with love and compassion? Or do we respond with hate and deception? Do we encourage others or tear them down? Do we laugh when the day is long or do we complain and argue?

How we rise? That secret component that gets everything in us to transform into something mighty? That's a relationship with God. That's what we need to get right while we wait. Without that relationship, we're just always going to be a small ball of a person in wait.

Sometimes it might feel that we're not growing. That we're stuck in the same spot we've always been, even though we're doing all the right things. We have to be patient. We all rise at different rates.

And sometimes, yes, for some it is like this - sometimes we will find ourselves thrown into the bottom of a deep, dark pit. And we will feel lost. And forgotten. And we will feel like this is the worst possible position we could ever find ourselves in. But we will also find that we will grow in astronomical size.

One day, the lid will open, the light will pour in and everyone around us will smile in amazement.

Because we should never underestimate how tall a person can rise from a pit.

By the way, I learned how to bake bread.