This week my best friend, my wonderful husband of 36 years, is celebrating a very special birthday.
Where has the time gone?
It seems as though it was just yesterday we celebrated his 23rd birthday together. We were engaged and he drove the three hours to visit me for the weekend. I had decided to make him a birthday dinner. With our wedding just several months away I had recently received a recipe book. Looking back I’m amazed at what I chose to make for my first dinner.
The main course was stuffed cornish game hens, and the dessert was called Lane cake. Well, if I remember correctly the cornish game hens turned out well. But the Lane cake…
The recipe for the cake was pretty normal. I beat the ingredients together and baked the two layers. They turned out well. But it was the next step where the difficulty began. It was this step that set into motion some changes to the following steps…
I was to cut the two layers in half horizontally. Well, I don’t know if you have ever tried that. I’m sure there are tips on google. But I was young and naive and just went for it. At first the layers didn’t seem too crooked when they were separate…
I was then to put filling between all the layers. The filling was made of chopped candied cherries, pecans, shredded coconut, and raisins. I began this step and it was looking pretty good, until I placed the top layer on. The slightly crooked layers had become incredibly crooked!
It looked awful!
What can I do? How can I fix this?
That’s when an idea came to me…
Whole candied cherries are a lot bigger than chopped cherries. I filled the low side with whole candied cherries!
They evened out the cake!
All I needed was the wonderful icing that covered up my mistake. The icing that would cover up the fact that I wasn’t really good at making a cake. The icing that would cover up the compromise I made so that it looked good.
And it did look good!
Now what I needed to do was to mark the cake somehow so that I knew which side to cut into, the side that was good, the side with the proper filling.
I’m glad to be able to tell you that I did admit to Mark my mistake, my failure at cutting the layers evenly, and the way I compromised so that it looked good. I’m thankful that Mark was so gracious and laughed with me as I showed him the whole cherries that made up for my inability!
But, even now as I reminisce about that birthday dinner and that Lane cake, I see how my life has been very similar. There were some lessons in that first birthday cake that have taken me years to really learn.
Yes, I can even spiritualize cake making!
How often have I thought, “I got this.” I don’t need to take the time to figure it all out. I don’t need help or advice from others who have experience. Similar to what I wrote last week, I chose to depend on my own understanding.
What I have learned is that when I take things into my own hands and do things the way I think is right seems to be okay for awhile. Separately the layers of life look okay, maybe a little crooked, but nothing significant. But when added up together the crookedness increases.
When crookedness increases in life, when the little things that haven’t been “cut correctly” are brought together it shows. It’s not what was expected. It’s not right.
It doesn’t look good!
That’s when I realize, “Wow, I really messed up!”
As much as I wish I could hit the delete button and try again, I can’t. The layers have been cut… it’s too late to try again, too late to have a re-do.
Even though I realize that if I had only taken the time to make a plan to cut them straight I wouldn’t have this problem, all I can do is move on and find a way to even out my mistake.
But, how do I move on? How can I solve this crookedness?
How can I make right what I messed up?
What do I do when my life looks crooked?
I didn’t like the uneven cake, it showed I made a mistake. I didn’t want Mark to see my mistake. I chose to find a way to make up for my mistake, and to hide the wrong side.
I realize that I have used many whole cherries and a lot of icing in my life. I have done things and responded in ways that weren’t right, and I have made choices that weren’t good. At the time they seemed to be the answers to make my life look even, things that would hide my mistakes. I wanted my life to look great. I was concerned of the way I appeared from the outside, because that seemed to be what really mattered.
But what if I had just accepted my cake the way it was?
What if I accepted and openly admitted my mistake without compromising?
Without trying to appear perfect?
Mark and I didn’t just sit there that night and look at that beautiful cake. We didn’t just admire it and appreciate my efforts. No, to fully enjoy it we needed to cut it. And once the cake was cut open and we were enjoying the “good side,” I felt safe to admit my mistake and confess my compromise. I realized even though I couldn’t cut cake straight, even though I put whole cherries in the cake, and covered it all with icing, Mark loved me for me, not for what I could or couldn’t do!
Like this cake, to enjoy life I need to be cut open. I need to face my fear of exposure. In this place of vulnerability I have found the exact opposite of all I thought. Instead of judgement and condemnation, I received amazing grace and unconditional love from both my heavenly Father, and from my earthly husband! They have both taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes. I don’t need to be perfect, or compromise and cover up so others think I am.
Much life has happened in the 37 years since I baked that cake. Now as Mark is celebrating his 60th birthday I am so thankful for sharing and enjoying the cake of life together, the mistakes, the whole cherries, the icing, and all! It has been a wonderful life!
Happy Birthday, Mark! Wishing you many more birthday cakes of life spent with you. You are a faithful man of God, an amazingly gracious and incredibly loving husband, an encouraging father, and soon to be a fun-loving Pop-Pop!!
I love you with all my heart! – Wilma