Torn Loyalties

When I was little I spent every friday night at my grandma’s house to get spoiled. She saved everything including the toys from my mom’s childhood. I was the only grand-daughter, so the toys were all MINE to play with. I even had my own type-writer to write my pen pals with  (seriously). Grandma’s basement could have been on the TLC show about hoarders called, Buried Alive. I would go downstairs for hours digging up treasures from deceased ancestors. Thankfully none of them were actually buried alive. Grandma and I loved walking the path near her house. She’d always bring a plastic bag to pick up garbage along the way. At grandma’s house I could watch whatever I wanted on TV. To my mom’s horror she even let me watch Jurassic Park (my favorite part was when the guy got eaten off of the port-o-potty! …Did I mention I have 2 older brothers?). At grandma’s house I pigged out on Fruitloops, Kudos and ice-cream. And every weekend she would make me my favorite meal, Raccoon Food. Its consisted of chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy all mixed together into a bowl of bliss. It was great!

One weekend Grandma offered to fry me an egg. I don’t know if she was out of Fruitloops or what, but I accepted her offer. I sat at the kitchen chair and waited for my egg. A couple minutes later she slid this yellow, slimy, black-spotted egg onto my plate. I was perturbed, “Grandma, what did you do to my egg? It looks dirty.” She got slightly defensive and said, “I seasoned it with pepper, salt and butter. Try it. You’ll like it!” Growing up I don’t recall my mom seasoning our food with salt and pepper or any other spices for that matter. I know my grandma only wanted what was best for me (thus the unlimited amount of ice-cream). Plus I couldn’t live on Fruitloops alone AND I didn’t want to offend Grandma, so I took a bite. My taste buds were awakened from their slumber. I had no idea an egg could actually taste GOOD. I figured an undeveloped chic is gross, so it’s supposed to taste gross. You just eat it so you don’t feel hungry anymore. This was not the case at Grandma’s house. This sweetly buttered, slightly zingy, salt-enhanced egg was delicious! When I got home that weekend I asked my mom why she didn’t cook more with salt. She said too much salt can clog your heart’s arteries. My loyalties were torn! Split in two. Who do I believe!?! Grandma’s food obviously tastes better, but my mom birthed me. That’s the answer she gave me whenever I questioned her reasoning. It seemed legit. I’ve even used it on my daughter a couple of times.

When I got married and I started cooking I was very weary of using too much salt (or really ANY salt). I married a slightly younger man in hopes of keeping him around longer. I wasn’t about to risk his longevity by overdosing him on salt. So one evening when I saw him pour EXTRA salt onto his Ramen Noodles, I started to panic. “What are you DOING?!?” I questioned him as if he were standing at the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge about to jump. “It already comes with a salt packet. All it is IS starch and salt, and you’re adding MORE salt to it? You. Are Going. To die.” That was almost five years ago. We have come a long way since then. He no longer adds salt to his occasional bedtime snack of Ramen Noodles, and I now put the salt and pepper shakers in front of his plate at dinner. I no longer have to fight off the urge to rush him to the ER to have his stomach pumped of salt. I won’t lie, I still have to look away when he poooours salt on his food. It hurts too much to watch him kill himself slowly. Sometimes it’s about the quality not quantity of life, right?

Recently I’ve re-discovered the verse, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6. Wait. Stop. This verse implies that salt is good. Are you telling me that all of these years Grandma was right? I could have been eating deliciously salty, buttered eggs without risking immediate death? Mind equals blown! I’m so sorry Mom, I know you birthed me, but God created me and He says salt is good. Not that the Bible wasn’t enough proof, but I decided to consult a fourth party, so I asked my doctor- Dr. WebMD said, “A little salt is essential to good health. Healthy adults should consume salt and water to replace the amount lost daily through sweat.”

I’ve heard the verse before that as Christians we are to be “the salt and light of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13). But I’ve also heard verses such as Proverbs 26:28 “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Also Psalm 12:3, “…With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips.” YIKES! I don’t want my lips cut off. But I’m confused! I was equating salt to flattery. But if salt is good and flattery is bad my comparison is inaccurate. I decided to consult my doctor again. In short, Dr. WebMD said too much salt can raise your blood pressure, damage: blood vessels, kidney, heart and even your brain, BUT that one teaspoon or less a day was good. Okay, I think I got it, so a little salt is good. There needs to be a balance. So how does that look in the way we should talk to people? This verse seemed to clarify things a little for me, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 So we are only supposed to criticize if it will be beneficial to who we’re critiquing and to do it lovingly. Got it.

I found another related verse, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones,” (Proverbs 16:24). Isn’t that beautiful? I picture a honey dipper (you know those sticks with a mini beehive at the end) slowly dripping honey onto a bun. I love how honey can turn a boring bun into a dessert, just like gracious words can turn a regular conversation into an encouraging encounter. One of my good friends said her favorite quality about me was my honesty. I so wish it were love, but maybe someday it will be. Instead of honey, I’d liken my words more to a Sour Patch Kid. You know those nasty gummy candies that look like evil voodoo dolls. “First they’re sour. Then they’re sweet.” There’s usually goodness to what I say if you can get past the sourness of the presentation.  That’s why I prefer writing over talking. I have a whole week to edit my words before they come out. Strange thought- I wonder if Sour Patch Kids would taste better if they were coated in salt instead of soured sugar.

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