[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
It is amazing how you can be doing an activity for years and miss the revelations and lessons it has. Cooking is very much part of my life as it is for many others but it was recently that the precious Holy Spirit began to teach me truths from this daily activity that have escaped me for years. The minute I received these revelations I knew that they were not for me but should be shared with many. My prayer is that we begin to implement them in our marriages and homes and build the precious relationships that mean a lot to us.
Every pot has a potential to burn! It is not always burning. Mostly it is cold and is stored away with other pots but put it on a stove and turn some heat on then you will see the pot’s potential to burn. This burning in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing as it aids in the process to cook a delicious meal. It becomes a problem when the heat is too much that it burns the very food that is meant to nourish us. This was the beginning of a lesson the Holy Spirit showed me about marriage and anger recently. The more I pondered on the lessons about the pot on a stove the more I became aware of some other truths I have learned through the years:
1. A burnt tongue. Have you ever looked forward to tasting something? You have smelt it and you just know it is delicious. You take it from the stove and taste it only to burn your tongue. Although you might be impatient the best thing is to put the pot away from the heat, let it cool down then enjoy the food. You will enjoy it so much more when it is cooler. It is the same with an argument. Is it not better to talk about the things that are frustrating you when you have calmed down instead of shouting your way through a fight? Cool down first before you say things you don’t mean. How many relationships have been ruined because things were said in a moment of a heated argument?
2. Don’t boil. If you have any experience with cooking you will know that when the pot boils you either have to switch down the heat or completely remove the pot. Food cannot continue cooking rapidly without some of the contents in the pots spilling over. When you are in an argument do not let it get to a point where you “lose it”… where you are boiling with anger. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 In your anger do not sin… Lives have been lost because people boiled with anger. A man shoots his spouse and children because he is overcome with anger. Someone destroys valuable property because of anger. A wife burns her husband’s clothes and damages his car because she is angry. In your anger do not sin…
3. You know your spouse. There is no one who knows your spouse better than you. Knowing your spouse therefore you know which buttons to push to get certain reactions. Talking about certain issues requires wisdom and timing. Talks of in-laws, money, friends, step children can be sore points and no-go areas when spoken when the time is not right. You have been with them enough to know that they always get angry when you bring a certain topic up. You know your spouse long enough to know things that they do not want to talk about. Why intentionally make them angry by pushing those buttons? In our day with modern stoves there are stove plates that heat up quicker than the others. You must know if you put your pot there that whatever you are cooking can withstand that kind of heat. Some dishes require slow cooking for them to cook well. The wisdom is in knowing when to lower the heat and when to increase it. Some give up in a relationship because they do not have the patience to wait out the dish that is cooked longer. We want ready-made and microwaved relationships when what is required is time to let them “cook”.
4. A pleasing aroma. I am sure all of us know of a few times when we walking past a house and were drawn by the wonderful smell beyond its walls and gate. For a brief moment you wish you were also part of that family so you could taste the delicious meal that they will be enjoying. When people look at your marriage and family do they wish for what you have or are they appalled and convinced “I never want to get married”? The devil is on all-out attack on our marriages and families. Because marriage is a reflection of our Lord and His bride, the Church. Satan hates it and wants to destroy it. Let us give out beautiful aromas that attract others to also want to be part of this Godly idea. Looking at us let them say “You make marriage look so good I also want to be married one day”.
5. Handing down a family recipe. Give your marriage a chance and tailor-make the kind of marriage that makes both of you happy. There are as many recipes of how to make chicken as there are cooks. These recipes have been tested through time and been enjoyed by many families. They might have sampled their neighbour’s chicken recipe but enjoy the way mom makes the chicken stew. In the same light every marriage is different. You have to use the ingredients that you are given to cook the kind of meal that you know will bless your family. There are many that are looking. The first audience a couple has is their children. You are role-modelling marriage to them and are affecting generations to come. In the same way that recipes are handed down through the generations your 20 year, 30 year, 40 year marriage will serve as a blessing to be looked to and emulated by your children and your children’s children. If you are feeling the heat in your marriage know that with every choice to work harder at your marriage; with every wrong that is forgiven; with every gentle word uttered when you could have chosen to insult; with every word, thought and action you are sowing to the kind of marriages your children will have…hand them down “family recipes” that they will enjoy.
6. One person can cook a dish at a time. Too many cooks spoil the broth so the saying goes. It is so true. In your marriage the only person who has influence on how your marriage turns out is you. You cannot change anyone except yourself. You can be inspired by other people but unless you take the steps you need to take in changing yourself in your marriage your situation might never change. You will still be irritated with your spouse and continue to pray that God change your husband to be more loving; change your wife to be more respectful.Unless you start pointing those prayers towards yourself nothing will change in your marriage. When you do, your spouse will get to enjoy the meal of gentleness, patience. faithfulness, peace and joy that will come from your attitude and actions.
7. An unwatched pot. If you leave a pot on the stove without keeping watch on it, and if you do not switch it off, it has the potential to kill the people who will breathe in the smoke that will come from it and will potentially burn the house down. Be always looking at how your spouse is feeling. Some people don’t find it easy to talk. They bottle things inside. Even when they are in pain they push the pain inside for the sake of peace. You will know your spouse enough to read when they are not ok. You will see from their nonverbal communication that they are not fine. It is honourable to seek peace but it is not advisable to let pain burn when one is boiling. Talk about things that are hurting you in your marriage because if you don’t you run the risk of “suffocating” your loved ones and opening a door to the enemy to negatively influence the atmosphere in your home.
8. Keeping the saltiness. In Matthew 5 verse 13 -16 the Bible says we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It reads You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
It is rare that you find people enjoying food that does not have salt. They might not put salt directly when cooking but they will almost always use spices that have salt in them. I have never seen someone eating raw salt yet we all enjoy a bit of salt in our food. As we see in the scripture above; But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Let us not lose our flavour. Be looking for ways to “spice up your marriage.” This will come from heart to heart chats about what you both enjoy. From these discussions then you will know your spouse enjoys a certain “dish” and really does not like eating certain foods.
Your home and marriage can be something that brings your loved ones eagerly back home or it can be a place they cannot wait to leave. It all depends on the atmosphere in the home. This atmosphere is created by our words, our actions and our attitudes. There is no use being someone that everyone else admires and looks up to and is glad to be around if people in your home really cannot stand you. Change the atmosphere for the better….look at what is coming from your “pot”.