When I was a newlywed, I could make a boxed cake, and a dinner salad, and could set a mean table. That was it.
When we got back to our condo from our Hawaiian honeymoon, Lawrence taught me to cook eggs. His mom helped me kick it up a notch with gifts and tutorials from cookbooks.
My heart longed to host—but the anxiety it produced was a real hindrance to joy in our home. So much so, that at one point Lawrence looked at me and said “I don’t want to have guests over anymore if you get this nervous, its not worth it. Its too hard.”
I didn’t blame my new husband for not wanting anyone to come over. As long as I was cooking, and as long as it was just for me and him, I was fine. However, as soon as you threw another person in the mix, I turned into another person.
That said, I knew God had called us to community in our home. The Bible commands us to open our homes in hospitably which I write about in Creating a Sanctuary; Hosting with Peace.
Needless to say, the Lord helped me let go of control. Cooking dinner became a natural, “good-enough” (not perfect) event at the end of each day.
But I still had room for growth. When my kids grew older the opportunity for conflict grew as well. All of a sudden they were wanting to ‘get in there and create.’ That meant messes. That meant doing what they had in their minds, not what was in my mind. I had a choice. I could set strict boundaries and control the environment, or, I could let them explore and learn in the kitchen.
“If you will let them go and enjoy creating in the kitchen, it will bless you and bless them,” The Holy Spirit whispered.
I let go.
It blessed me.
It blessed them.
Today, all grown up, the girls have catered weddings and retreats. Larry and I are pampered with personal chefs when they are around. I barely have any work to do at all, unless I want to.
And they have fun. There is peace between them when they cook, not because they are naturally non-confrontational (my girls have no problem voicing their opinions!), but because they have practiced working together for so many years. At this point, they instinctively know how to manage their emotions in the kitchen process, and not create a zone of control and tension. They are way ahead of the game compared to where I was when I was their age.
Ultimately, letting go of being a controller of your kitchen paves the way for peace in your home. Your guests will instinctively know that your home is a stress free zone. That their presence did not make waves or inconvenience you in any way. The freedom for everyone to participate in the meal and the fun of working together creates bonds of friendship and family, and while the meal may not be perfect, it will undoubtedly taste much better and be healthier because it was made in an atmosphere of love and acceptance. These things matter.
Looking back, if I had let the enemy set the tone for the atmosphere of my kitchen, it would have remained my kitchen unto myself, by myself.
I would have had the kitchen in my control, but would have lost all this beautiful wonderful connection to my children and others. It would have become a pretty lonely place, instead of the hub of the home, the place where secrets are shared and burdens lifted while dressing a salad or kneeling bread.
To create a place of refuge at the end of the day, make you kitchen a nourishing space physically, a rejuvenating space spiritually, and a memorable space emotionally. This will create a sanctuary, even while you’re cooking dinner.