Complicated cookery

K has become my resident kitchen assistant, helping me prepare all sorts of things, so when I went to make a batch of her favorite chocolate chip muffins, I suggested that she take over and I would be the assistant. Everyone was thrilled!

And then we started cooking.

Not that K wasn’t capable. She could read the recipe, find the ingredients, and measure everything out with reasonable accuracy. But cooking with someone else suddenly made me realize that in my quest to perfect my recipes, I’d made things a bit…complicated.

“Okay, we need 1/2 cup sugar, but I actually use brown sugar because it makes the muffins taste more like a cookie. But not all brown sugar. Just some. Now for the flour: it says 2 cups, but I use mostly whole wheat. Mostly, but not all. And a little bit of vanilla, even though that’s not on here. And you want to stir it just until it’s moist, like moving around the edges and making sure to get to the bottom but not too fast that it spills or mixes too much.”

She was patient with me, and I tried so hard to let it be her thing. But this recipe, which started out with just five simple ingredients, morphed into a complicated list of alterations and corrections. Great muffins, no doubt, but how much better were they than the simple muffins? And at what cost?

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” (Matthew 18:3)

My sweet K wanted to make her own muffins. She wanted to follow the instructions on the little card. She wanted to stop with five simple ingredients, stir them however, throw them in a pan, and enjoy what came out. She didn’t care if they weren’t as brown sugary as a cookie, or moister crumbed, or higher on the fiber. She cared that she had muffins, and that she’d made them herself.

It’s in my nature to over think things. But in explaining a “simple” recipe to K, I realized how complicated I make things, often in the sake of perfection. And in meditating on this verse, I wonder if moving closer to “perfect” is moving me farther from the childlike simplicity God desires. Seek. Find. Ask. Do. Love. Without the strings attached, without the complicated nuances with which only adults seem to be preoccupied.

As I start this week, I pray that I really choose the simple over the complicated whenever possible, seeing things as a child might. Simple is sweet, beautiful, and amazing. No wonder God wants us to enjoy it.

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