Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Process

In January I started teaching for an after school program at an inner-city middle school in Fort Worth. I teach a baking class. Yesterday we were making Cookie Surprise. Cookie Surprise is a very simple dish - you just layer chocolate chip cookies and Cool Whip and cover the top layer in chocolate syrup and chocolate chips. However, it is a process.

First, you have to put cookie dough on baking sheets.
Then you have to bake the cookies.
Then you have to let them cool.
Then you dunk them in milk.
Then you put them in a pan.
Then you top it with Cool Whip.
Then you repeat the process.
Then you drizzle the chocolate syrup and sprinkle the chocolate chips.
Then (as if life weren't cruel enough) you have to put the whole thing in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you can eat it.

Now, I love those middle school-ers. I genuinely love them. Sometimes it surprises me how much I love them. They're precious. I want to take them home with me. Not really. But I like them. A lot. However, they have a MAJOR weakness: they are not, in any form of the word, patient. Patience is not even a virtue they wish to have. They want instant gratification. They wanted entertainment and satisfaction and they want is NOW.

Cookie Surprise is a delicious dish, but my class was so impatient, they didn't even want to wait for it to be completed. They wanted to eat the different components of the recipe. The cookies, the Cool Whip, the chocolate chips, and the chocolate syrup. They were willing to forgo the finished product in order to have the immediate gratification of the ingredients - the parts of the process.

Now, because I have the unique ability to turn almost anything into a spiritual lesson for myself, I thought about how much I am like my students. Not with desserts, but with life.

Most things in life are a process. Graduating from college. Forming close relationships. Feeling comfortable in a new environment. Learning to be more confident. It's all a process. But I can be very impatient. I want what I want NOW and I don't want to wait. And sometimes I'm tempted to settle for parts of what I want. Not what I really want. I want Cookie Surprise, but I'll settle for a hand full of chocolate chips.

Why do we do this? There's a book that says kids in poverty have trouble understanding delayed gratification. They want things immediately because nothing is guaranteed in their lives. Promises in their lives are frequently broken.

I think sometimes I act like I'm spiritually poor. I don't believe God's promises or that through a process He is bringing good things into my life. I want Him to give me what I want NOW or else I'll settle for something I can secure on my own.

I don't want to be like that. I don't want my students to be like that. I want us to understand and believe that life is a process and good things take time to develop.

Yeah, you want to have something that's real
Well, give it some time, baby
-Pete Yorn lyrics
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Great words, Melanie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We do settle way too often.