Back-up Buns

Today I am reminded of an Easter years ago when I was in college. My mom put me in charge of bringing buns to the family dinner. Yes, buns. The least important element of all. The consolation prize of assigned dishes. I had wanted to bring something special. My mom assured me buns were very special. Right. When I arrived, the smell of ham was already thick in the air. I smiled at the familiar sight of my grandma making her green bean casserole. After I had put the buns on the counter, I said hello to cousins, siblings, aunts, and uncles. Later, as I was setting the table, I noticed there was no butter. I went to the pantry and reached for the little yellow, glass butter dish.  I turned to leave and suddenly stopped. “What was that?” my brain questioned, “…and why does it bother me?”  I turned back around and realized I was staring at a large bag of buns. More buns. Different buns.  Puzzled, I picked them up and took them to my mom. As I held them up to her it dawned on me what was going on. “Are these…BACK-UP buns?” I asked incredulously.  Thankfully the humor of the situation quickly outweighed the offense incurred. “You didn’t trust me to bring buns?” I laughed.

“Well you have a lot going on….” She started in meekly. I shook my head as my family eagerly took sides in the hilarious debate about whether it was morally wrong of her to have purchased “back-up buns”.

In her defense, it was true. I was going to school full time, and working full time, and involved in a few other activities. I was pretty busy. I was very well organized however, and I never forgot anything—at least I don’t remember forgetting anything. I got good grades. I was responsible. But in my carefree way, I might have given the impression that I was capable of forgetting buns.

As I’ve grown I have tried to cultivate a deeper understanding of life; how I perceive things, and how I want to live. I have questioned how and why I respond to situations, and how I present myself. I would like to think I still have my carefree ways, but I have learned to be more responsible. In college, there was no way I could have foreseen the lessons I would have to learn in life and how they would shape me. You don’t know what life is going to throw at you or what you will find yourself having to learn. But you do learn–willingly or unwillingly. Sometimes the lesson hangs around until you’ve got it really learned. It most oftentimes is very difficult, but there is always purpose. God doesn’t mold and shape vessels He doesn’t intend on using.  And we usually find we make up for what was lost by the great grandeur of what we gain.

Not many people know the details about the trauma accompanied with the ending of my marriage. I have never had a problem fighting for someone suffering injustice, but when it comes to myself, I am just the opposite. The past year I have had to learn to stand up for myself. I have learned that it’s ok—and necessary. It has been tremendously difficult and has not been done without an enormous amount of fear. I continue to face these fears. I stayed too long and suffered too much. I’m glad I can say I did everything I could, but the damage to my soul has been done. Today I finally decided I am not going to just get better. I’m going to be better. Better than before. I will survive. Overcome.  I will learn. I will adapt. The holes made in my heart and my life are simply empty spaces to fill with necessary things. Good things. This is yet another opportunity to rediscover who I am and reconnect with things that I thought were lost. The weak points have been eroded and emptied. I will fill them in with rock solid foundation. Those parts will become my strengths. It feels good. I will seek out others who can help me along this road.

Incidentally, over the years I have learned to make bread. I have gotten pretty good at it. I am still told to bring buns to family get-togethers—only they request the homemade buns. And there are never back-up buns. I don’t just remember to bring buns. I bake those suckers homemade and bring them. They are heavenly. It’s important to note that I didn’t set out to learn how to make buns in order to prove a point or impress anybody. Although it is quite funny to picture me in the kitchen kneading bread like a mad scientist, shaking a flour-covered fist in the air shouting, “I’LL GIVE YOU BUNS!!” No, it’s just something I learned over time that I can now offer to the family. It worked out that way.

It worked out.

I’ve got dough rising right now. Tomorrow when I bring those homemade buns to Easter, I guarantee there will be jokes about “back-up buns”. (Apparently it’s funny every year.) This year, I will look back on my life and the lessons I have learned and be thankful for the grace and dignity they bring to my life. I will choose to trust that the heartaches and hurtful situations will be the growing pains that lead to wholeness and stronger foundations. Life shapes who you are. Ups, downs, good things, bad things, it all forms you into who you are and how you relate to the world. Wisdom says to make the best of all your circumstances and eventually something beautiful happens: you “come full circle”. Things work out. And sometimes… providence brings it all back around and you get a chance to redeem yourself entirely.

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