Monday, October 3, 2011

What's your cookie dough?

I attempted to go to bed early last night when a very lengthy (and I mean like, 5 message long) text came through on my phone. This friend and I have been through the trenches together. We were partners n crime in the times with both of us were furthest from the Lord, and now, as we grow in our faith, we constantly pray for each other and get to encourage one another through totally different seasons in life. No amount of sleep is ever worth losing this precious correspondence with a dear friend, especially when one of us needs prayer.

So as I read through the texts and prayed about what I could say to encourage my friend, an analogy came to mind.

We were discussing how, even though we know we've been forgiven by the Lord, and we are totally different people than we once were, it sometimes feels as though we've lived two different lives, and that the one we live now is not the one we planned for.

and its not

cuz our plans aren't the same as the Lord's until we are focused on him and his will.

"The heart of a man plans his way but the LORD determines his steps" - Proverbs 16-9

My friend and I are both bakers, and I was able to draw from my own struggles and come up with the following analogy:

Imagine you are in the kitchen, baking cookies for a bake sale (or some other similar event). You've gotten about halfway through the process of blending all your ingredients, when the coordinator calls you and says "Oh my goodness, you're baking cookies?! But I REALLY need you to make brownies! I told you that! We've got plenty of cookies."

So you look down at the half-mixed batch of cookies you've got going and your heart sinks. You weren't paying attention to the specifics of her request the first time around, you were just eager to help. You're intentions are in the right place. You've been craving the cookies. There's nothing wrong with the cookies. They're gonna be great, and you've put a lot of work and used up much of your stock of basic ingredients.

You, being the clever kitchen problem solver, start to think of ways you can stretch what you have left, dig out some of the cookie ingredients, use the basic mix you've already started, and get some brownies goin!

No problem. There's gotta be a way.

But the more you add and mix and try to manipulate, the brownies, though coming together, still have these remnants of cookie dough in them, and it's just one big ole hot mess. The more you try to mix, the more frustrated you get.

You think "Why couldn't she just be satisfied with the cookies? What's wrong with cookies?" and you know the answer: nothing. The cookies are good, they're just not what you were asked to make.

You are so stuck on incorporating the cookies and not wasting all those ingredients, so you just keep trying to make it work, when honestly, sometimes you just have to sacrifice your previous attempts in order to get better brownies.

This might take a trip to the store so you're not trying to squeeze what you can outta what you've got left, doing some dishes, cleaning out all of the excess, but in the end, the brownies are even better than the cookies you planned to make, and MUCH more helpful to the cookie-overloaded bake sale.

Our plans are truly like this. I know for me, I spent my whole life planning for things to turn out one way, and I keep trying to salvage bits of that so that it doesn't all go to waste, despite the fact that I know good and well what God really wants for me. In MY plans, I figured by now I'd be married, with a kid or two, and I'd be teaching while raising my little family.

Obviously, this is not how my life turned out, and I am in no way sad about this, but I had to realize, sometimes dying to myself means letting go of the cookie dough.

We have to be willing to let go of our own dreams, even if they're good ones. Yes, I often feel defeated when I think about this, in the same way that I would not want to run to the store to get more sugar when I know I could find a way to save the sugar and still make brownies. But in the end, running to the store is the better option. I am learning daily how to align my dreams with the Lord's plans for me, but in that, it means I often have to toss my silly fleeting ones out.

I have to realize that the life I have is NOT the one I planned, it's better. But I still have to make up for my mistakes from the times when I was NOT seeking his will. Thankfully, he's always willing to drive me to the store and buy the new butter. I just have to be willing to get in the car.

I keep pulling more and more from this analogy, so I'll stop before it starts to get ridiculous.

But I leave you with this: What's your cookie dough?