I grew up in Louisiana and came from a long line of good cooks. By the time I was twelve years old I could just about prepare a full course meal. At nineteen I was fully convinced that my culinary skills were unparalleled, but something happened.
One Friday evening I decided to bake some spaghetti for my boyfriend and a few guests. When he got home he was pretty excited but asked what else was on the menu. Slightly perplexed by his question, I asked why he thought something other than spaghetti was on the menu and he pointed to the large pot of rice on the stove… “Baby, you have a pot of rice on the stove, I’m just wondering what’s gonna go with it.” Although a bit shocked and irritated that he would question my rice, I managed to give an explanation… “Well, obviously the spaghetti goes on top of the rice.” Considering my ex was a chef, that conversation didn’t go very well.
After being enlightened I decided to give my grandmother a call to ask why she always cooked rice with our spaghetti. In her own words…”Chile cuz it was so many of yawl. I cook rice with every thang.” And it was true. She cooked rice with everything and so did I along with all the rest of my relatives.
Lesson: Tradition, while in this particular instance wasn’t very harmful, can indeed be. It showed me how I was blindly practicing something without having any idea why. I witnessed my grandmother cooking spaghetti for years and finally someone questioned my technique.
What traditions have you been practicing without explanation that could be holding you back? Still eating pork rinds and washing them down with soda every day? Screaming and yelling obscenities at your kids because that’s all you know to do? Attending the same church you always have because big mama and aunt Lulu still cook Sunday dinner for Pastor Polyester, yet you still live a substandard life and have yet to experience the goodness of the Lord?
In the end, I still don’t mind a little rice with my spaghetti, but while it’s okay, it’s certainly not the best. This scenario reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:23 (Amp) which says all things are permissible and we are free to do anything we please, but not all things are helpful or profitable and all things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive. I hope I’m not alone in coming to this realization.
While there are some wonderful traditions to uphold and many have taught us invaluable lessons like cooking and entertaining; family dinners at the table; and praying together to name a few; let’s not forget to hold on to what brings us joy and peace; and let go of anything that weights us down.
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