When I moved to Mongolia twenty years ago, like any new bride, I brought my collection of family recipes to my new home—those trusty old standbys of comfort foods. Problem was, I was now living in the frozen tundra, a post-soviet country that was just finding her beautiful way. Half the ingredients in my recipes were not to be found. Holidays were the most challenging. Those are the times you really want your traditional foods, but if they don’t exist in the country in which you abide, you have to learn to let it go and to do without.
Or maybe you just find a work-around.
I became the queen of substitutions. I learned to adapt and adjust and get the end result I wanted with the stuff I could actually find.
My kids do the same thing with their LEGO blocks. If they decide that they are building a ship and don’t have the pieces they need, they improvise brilliantly.
It’s like life.
The life I want: the peace and coziness of a home filled with love and tenderness, surrounded by holy things and people who are trying to be holy, filled with friends and music and laughter and endless pots of tea and trays of toast. Living intentionally, moving towards shalom in the house and on the land.
But the stuff I have is a little rougher than that. I have a few ingredients I didn’t expect (like tragedy and separations and chronic sickness) and I am missing some ingredients I definitely assumed I would always have on hand.
How can I get the outcome I envision, without the right ingredients? Do I let it go? Or do I find a work-around?
One thing I learned in the kitchen is that no quantity of quality ingredients can make up for poor technique. If you don’t know the process, if you haven’t honed skills (or would that be skillz?), if you skip important steps, you can ruin even the best ingredients. Yet, if you have to work with less, but you know the process, understand and trust the process, and most of all live the process, you can make a beautiful meal.
“For they will be made holy who observe holy things in holiness…” Wisdom 6:10
I felt super chastised once when someone posted a comment on my instagram that said, “Awww. You have the life I always longed for, but never dared to make.”
At the time, I wasn’t building the life I longed for, because I thought I no longer had the ingredients. And certainly I didn’t have the ingredients everyone said you needed. My heart broke over this comment, because I knew (I KNEW) that I wasn’t making anything beautiful. What I was making was fragile. And more than that it was not being treasured.
The Kingdom of Heaven
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and seeks all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44
Sometimes a treasure doesn’t look like a treasure. Sometimes what is most to be prized has been buried for so long that it is caked with dirt, maybe even a little dented or broken. But the value is not diminished simply because it has been so long overlooked or under-appreciated.
There is someone who sees the treasure of my life—a microcosm of the Kingdom—for love of it, he has buried it and has bought the whole field out of pure joy.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a recipe, where the Master Chef, the recipe writer, knows how it is supposed to come out. Regardless of whether you have the perfect ingredients, he wants you to know the process, trust the process, live the process. Holy things, done in holiness, makes holy people.
Something beautiful is being made.