I spend a lot of time in the kitchen- I always have.
It’s why I have a big booty. But that’s another story for another time.
I often hear of others talking about the place where they hear God, feel His presence, and experience His goodness. Most often, it’s in what would be the “mundane,” or the day to day, seemingly unimportant moments that people have these encounters.
Although the culinary world is an exciting adventure for me, and full of life and excitement, it is also true that the kitchen is that “mundane, day to day place” for me. I spend so much of my time there, most often alone, that I can easily check out of the real and tangible world around me, and enter in to deep conversation with the Lord.
As I was preparing dinner yesterday, I had that experience. I realized after quite some time that I had been fully engaged with the Lord regarding one simple thing: conviction.
Huge topic, I know.
And often times people turn away at the sound of that word, because no one wants to be preached at.
But it wasn’t like that. It was tender and gentle, and I just felt the Lord gently and lovingly convicting me regarding what it looks like to love well.
Let’s be real, we can all be so self righteous sometimes. We think we are right, and others are wrong. We think the problem is another’s, and never our own. We think we are superior to others and often lead ourselves to believe that we are entitled to being right. We can come up with a million reasons why our actions are okay, no matter how they may have made another person feel.
We can be extreme on one end, believing that only our actions matter, and never our heart. On the contrary, we can easily believe that it makes no difference what our actions are and whether or not they hurt another person, because it’s our heart and intentions that matter.
Both are wrong.
There has to be a balance.
The first extreme- one that I confess to be guilty of quite often- is ultimately performance based. I will speak for myself and say that it is entirely too easy to just do the right thing in order to make another person happy. Meanwhile, I am grumbling and complaining in my heart because I am frustrated with that person and all the things they are doing that I find to be out of place or wrong.
But really, the truth is, I am frustrated with myself. Why? Because I know that my heart is wrong, and I feel like a fake and fraud for pretending to be a certain way with another person just for the sake of people pleasing.
If we are open and honest with ourselves (I say “we” in hopes that another person out there can relate), this is not love at all.
Ah, but the flip side? Just having our hearts right but not taking care to do the right thing isn’t really love either.
And I’d have to argue that if we are unable to take care to do the right thing, the heart inside us probably isn’t as “right” as we may lead ourselves to believe.
But this side of the pendulum swing is visited just as frequently as the other.
So often, we miss the mark when it comes to loving others well, serving them well, and touching their hearts.
We justify our actions by boldly stating, “well, my intentions were nothing but good.”
A wise and incredibly respectable pastor from our church family told me once,
If you accidentally run over someone’s foot because you were being careless, the fact that it was an accident or you “didn’t do it on purpose” doesn’t make it hurt any less, and you still need to apologize to that person.
And that’s just it.
Our intentions don’t justify our actions, and our actions don’t prove our intentions.
I don’t claim this to be an easy balance to work out, but I know it’s vital.
The important thing I have learned, in my very short and hectic life, is this:
If your heart is right, you can almost always guide your actions in the right direction. And if your actions are right, they most often are springing from a right heart.
And sometimes the “right” direction isn’t “your” direction.
Or “my” direction.
Sometimes we need to look beyond ourselves and see what is “right” for another person.
And that is love.
To be entirely selfless, letting go of the need to be superior, and boldly searching for ways to genuinely serve another and truly do the right thing, from the a true and right place in our hearts…
That is the balance.