Yesterday my friend Crystal invited me to (in)courage’s event, (in) real life Friended, surrounding friendship. I was struck by the words from one of the speakers- was it Kristen Strong or Jen Schmidt? My memory escapes, but what I remember was this: “People are inspired by our strengths, but they connect to our failures.” Boom.
Isn’t that the truth?
But here’s another truth. Confessing failure is scary. Sharing my failures feels like throwing vulnerability out to the wind and then running, all exposed, for warmth. Yet, in sharing my failures, the humanity between us shrinks. We see one in another in authentic me too relationship.
In honor of failure sharing- not for the sake of staying in or glorifying the mess- but to celebrate God’s redemptive work in our ever-lovin’ broken stories, I’m creating a new series, #sundayconfessions. I believe there is something extremely healing and permission-giving about confession for the sake of leveling the Ego and as CS Lewis said, “Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.”
In our family I am the baker and Bryan is the
cook chef. He delights and I mean face-lights-up-giddy delights in planning a meal, grocery shopping, and plating courses that appear as if they’ve come from a high-end restaurant. I say this not to brag but to confess that I’m jealous. I’m straight up jealous of my husband’s gift for seasoning tri trip and marrying flavors and butterflying chicken and making aioli (I had to look up the spelling) for sides. I envy his ability to ideate a four course meal and then go at it like a brave soldier in our small kitchen. If you’ve been to our house, you know even burgers are an experience, with his homemade bacon jam and juicy patties. I may have told him on more than one occasion, “If you ever die, you will kill a family of three because we will live on cookies alone.”
What I didn’t notice until recently is that because he’s so dang accomplished in the kitchen, I take a backseat. I dim. I believe the critical voice taunting, Don’t even try. You’ll never make meals the way he does. I mean, just taste this poached-egg-over-sweet-potato-hash-brunch. What’s your skill? Scrambled eggs?
When I’m afraid, I hesitate to step into the uncomfortable, especially if someone else is rocking it. I compare and find myself lacking. I self-protect instead of putting myself out there and risking failure. I mean it’s working. Why re-create the wheel?
Last week I decided to fast from self-protection. To announce dinner is on me and away I went to the store in a mad flurry. Rice, green beans and chicken tenders jumped into the cart. And with each ingredient, my heart rate rose. My grin grew. I felt bravery expand inside.
Once home, the boys played football in the back, and I blasted music, pulled out a recipe for Curried Cauliflower & Chicken Stew from a beloved cookbook, Soup of the Day, and chopped, seeded, and sautéed for two hours. And I felt something I’d never experienced before. Was it confidence? Healing? It’s not that I can’t cook, it’s just that – how do I describe this feeling? Bad-assery is all I can honestly confess. I felt a sense of utter joy! I pulled out the fancy knives – the ones only Bryan knows how to properly handle – and I sliced through cauliflower like butter. With each chop I laughed. I’m doing it I yelled to the boys. I’m cooking dinner and loving every minute. The neighborhood walker overheard and waved at the window, my cheeks flushing red.
Music pulsed and I stirred onion, fresh ginger and garlic til the kitchen smelled of Thai heaven. I seeded tomatoes, cut chicken thighs and rinsed and trimmed green beans. With every chop and cut and trim I felt alive in a newfound way.
I voxed a friend, holding back tears and yelled over the music. I’m conquering my cooking fear. I’m making dinner. Her kind encouragement came back, Trust your tastes and intuition.
And when the four of us sat down, I felt compassion and intense gratitude for the gift my hubby offers when he cooks. An act of love, no doubt. To make and feed and express joy through flavors and presentation and experience.
I’m no chef, but I found a redemptive strength in identifying my cooking fear. I took the first step to reclaim myself in the kitchen. And I’m going back for seconds.
Pull up a chair and join #sundayconfession. How are you failing and risking?
- 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 Tbs. curry powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- 2 Tbs. corn or peanut oil
- 3/4 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 can (13 1/2 fl. oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large cubes
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- Steamed rice for serving
In a blender, combine 1 Tbs. water with the onion, ginger and garlic and process until a paste forms. In a small bowl, stir together the curry powder and the 1/2 tsp. salt.Cook the chicken
Heat a large fry pan over high heat until very hot and add the oil. Add the onion-garlic paste and sauté just until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spice mixture and sauté until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to break down, about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup water, bring to a simmer and stir in the chicken pieces. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the stew thickens, about 20 minutes.Cook the vegetables
Uncover and stir in the cauliflower and green beans. Re-cover and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt. Serve the stew with steamed rice. Serves 4.