Monday, March 7, 2011

I Messed Up the Macaroni

My pregnant wife is on bed rest so I've been trying to help out a bit more around the flat. My hands are dried and cracked from daily dish duty and I'm developing expert timing when it comes to simultaneously washing and hang drying clothes. Allie likes to laugh and call me a "lady" when I talk about "all the laundry I have to do today." I've told her over and over again how sexist her jokes are, but some women just don't get it.

So far, my favorite inherited task is cooking dinner. Whereas I use to play video games to let my mind rest in nothing space, preparing dinner has been a restful end to my day. And fellas, if you want to surprise your lady and make a meal, the internet has never made it easier! The other night I browsed the Food Network's website for Friday-night Mac 'n Cheese. All I had to do was follow the simple steps and "one, two, three," Mr. Mom made another wonderful meal.

Internet recipes are foolproof, unless you get greedy and try to double the recipe. After two hours of chopping, pouring, preheating, grating and making an impromptu grocery run, I was ready to hear, "You're the best husband in the world!" Instead, I left out about half of the cheese needed and heard, "Does it taste cold to you?" The reason it tasted cold was for lack of cheese and excess milk, which cooled the meal almost instantly after it left the oven. Now I was the one feeling cold, and bitter, because my heroic cooking effort failed.

At this point some of you might have thrown up your hands and ordered a pizza--not me. I stormed back into the kitchen and pitched the cooling casserole dish into the oven with a "crash!" While I waited and hoped the oven would fix my miscalculation, I melted down faster than a half-serving of Euro cheese. I've never been more pissed off about Mac 'n Cheese and more confused as to why I was so angry.

Being the sympathetic and proven cooking veteran she is, Allie graciously told me it would be ok and asked me to sit down. Then she fired a question: "Do you think this Mac 'n Cheese represents your life right now? It's messy and imperfect. And the harder you try, the worse things get?" The oven light suddenly turned on inside and I grew quiet.

Lately I've had a lot of trouble allowing myself to be human. I take the wrong bus and whip myself for it. I say the wrong Hungarian phrase in a café and then cower in embarrassment. The Mac 'n Cheese incident was the capstone of a week when I felt painfully human. For some reason I have this expectation that I should be a better husband, cook and even Christian.

In preparing to teach from Genesis this week, I've noticed just how imperfect people in the Old Testament can be. People sleep around, lease out their wives to avoid trouble, kill each other and still God is gracious. The Patriarchs--Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--continually disobey God and put their entire family at risk. And yet God reiterates his promises to bless them, multiply them into a "great nation" and take them into the promised land. No matter how hard they try, the Patriarchs' humanness doesn't get in the way of God's purposes.

This is the kind of God I need. This kind of God allows humans to be human, so long as they are willing to let God take His place. It's when I think that I can control everything, rely solely on myself and live without flaws that I stop being fully human. It's then that I step into the role of demigod, not quite divine and unwilling to simply be human. I have found a sweet grace, however, in releasing my claim to divinity and embracing my humanity. When I make that surrender, suddenly I feel lighter and more peaceful about my changing circumstances.

I'm sick of playing God; I'm ready to be more human. I want to order another cappuccino, even if it means I'll be awake until 2am. I want to take the wrong bus and enjoy the view on my way to an unknown destination. I want to burn dinner and laugh about it over pepperoni pizza. I want to take risks and not be afraid of fear. I want to trust in the God who is love and is powerful enough to overcome me and my mistakes.