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Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Buffet of Life

Last Saturday we went out with some of the other missionaries to show them a local restaurant that we really like. This place is definitely not fancy but it serves an especially delicious northern Thai curry called gaaeng hang laeh muu. It’s the sort of dish that we never need a big portion of because the flavours are so intensely deep and rich that one small serve shared between two people provides enough taste to linger in your mouth and remind you of how satisfying it was for the next few hours. We never leave feeling bloated or too full but {I’m not exaggerating} hours later we can still be heard uttering, “That curry was so delicious!”

I appreciate this dish all the more since trying to make it myself a few times. It’s quite an effort with a long list of ingredients combining spices and being slow-cooked for a substantial amount of time, to release a wonderfully subtle combination of all the flavours.  
When made correctly… seriously! There are no words!

This past December, I looked at our calendar with all the upcoming events that our family had either been invited to or were asked to be a part of through work, school, friendships, church and extra curricular activities.  It was a lot.  

Granted, I am an introvert but I really started to feel overwhelmed by it all. The most difficult part was that when I sat down to look at what each thing was {in order to cut a few things out} I was surprised to notice that they were all really ‘good’ things. Not one of the things, in isolation, was a waste of time, unnecessary or seemed unenjoyable, but all of them together… was simply too much. 

I was explaining to a friend how I don’t like to get to the end of a busy week packed with ‘good’ things and not even be able to remember what I did a few days earlier.  After an event I want to ‘savor’ it and make space to ‘digest’ it within our family.  I want to give my heart time to respond and to block out the noises that so often deafen me from hearing what it was I needed to learn through each experience. 

I have come to appreciate the beauty of the Thai culture that really stops and sits to eat together and in contrast I feel saddened by the western ‘drive-through’ influence - where food is consumed on-the-way-to wherever… while rushing to the “next thing”.

Having time to “chew on”, “mull over” and reflectively appreciate the moments in life - just like that curry - has become so much more appealing to me than the all-you-can-eat buffet of an overcrowded life.  The buffet, from a distance, may aesthetically seem more appealing but soon enough you’re left feeling so full, you can’t even remember the first thing you ate. There is nothing wrong with the individual dishes, they’re all delicious, but later the flavours have all mixed into one and the satisfaction that you thought you might have by the end is tainted by the bloated feelings that leave you feeling like you never want to eat again!

For parents, how do we then help to navigate our children through this “buffet” style-of life, guiding them as they grow up with all-you-can-eat opportunities? How do we effectively and deliberately model a reflective and sensitive approach to life? 

I believe that it is something that we must fight to do ourselves first in order to model it to our children.  If I can’t insert “pauses” into my own life that allow me to joyfully experience and reflectively savour the tastes of my day and week, then how can I direct my children faced with every distraction and opportunity laid before them to be able to do the same?  How can I teach my kids that yes, the buffet may all look good, but that does not mean it must all be consumed? 

Recently, I shared that my word for 2018 was “PAUSE”. 

I want to pause in order to remember these days that fly by so quickly.
I need to pause to give my best yes … and a careful no.
I choose to pause to give thanks.
I must pause before I speak in anger, judgment, or criticism.
I will pause to say I’m sorry.
I desire to pause to dwell on God’s goodness and mercy.

In an environment where smorgasbords abound and they all look so appealing, it can be hard for all of us to say no to opportunities, invitations and new ideas.  But when we become too busy {even doing good things} we crowd out our ability to ‘pause’ and hear God’s voice and we miss out on the intensely deep and rich moments in life.

I guess, as the saying goes, sometimes less is more.

1 comment:

CHAPLAIN'S e-CORNER said...

Thanks Andrea for yet another very thought-provoking post. It certainly has had the desired affect on this smorgasbord dad! A definite 'pause' to sit and reflect. xo