I’ve been there a few times now: in the middle of a complex bake and it’s starting to all fall apart. Maybe you forgot halfway through that you were making a double-batch and now the proportions are all off; or you missed adding the eggs a few steps back; or (I’ve done this a few times) you kept the motor running on the food processor while you added the eggs in some false efficiency, and now you’ve blitzed a whole shell into the mixture.
Whatever happened, you’re now at the point where even your best efforts to rescue the situation are going to produce an imperfect result, and the best move is quite possibly to throw it all out and start again. Depending on your resources available, it can feel like an impossible choice (high baking drama, I know!)
Recently I noticed a similar impulse rising within me as I considered my year thus far. Could I dump it all and start over fresh? Surely I’d do a better job the second time around.
It’s only April, but things are not going quite as I had hoped. I had a good plan, and as usual I had submitted it to the Lord for his approval and blessing, and then gone about working it out. Yes, I was aware of some of the limitations I was working with and within, but I thought I could contain the chaos with some balanced family rhythms, a boundaried approach to my schedule, and diligent attention to my core spiritual practices… See? It was a great plan.
The unravelling began when my mother’s health sharply declined. A long night in ED began a stay in hospital and now in hospital-level care at a resthome. At first the worry was that she might pass quickly, but now the worry is that she is passing slowly. I felt almost equipped to deal with the first, I’m good in an emergency. The second has its unique challenges, though with gifts hidden amongst the heartache. However, the burden of the unknowns, and the cost of being present in suffering are slowly eroding my capacity and my confidence.
Bring in a few more points of pain and pressure on every side, and I find myself looking at the mixing bowl of 2023 and thinking, “this is not going to plan.” There’s an urge to rescue the situation, to strategise my way to a fix, to scrap it all and start new. But these things are simply not within my power—because of both the limits of my control externally, and my capacity to shift things internally.
This is what we’ve got to work with.
Sometimes when the bake comes out sub-par, whether the cake is dry or the slice un-set, you can rescue the situation by accepting what is… Add a generous dollop of cream or a scoop of ice cream, and call it pudding. This isn’t what we had planned, and the texture is off, but it’s what we’ve got and it’s actually rather delicious.
Cream covers a multitude of failures.
Ditto icing. The image above is from a drastically sunken cake (I was hurrying to fit someone else’s schedule rather than the cake’s and took it out too early). I covered its multitude of sins by an unhealthy application of buttercream and a pile of roasted hazelnuts. Maybe everyone knew, but no one commented.
So what might it look like to put some cream on 2023 thus far and call it pudding? Well, it starts with accepting what is: with recognising the impulse to fix / rescue / re-start and the limits of my ability to do so; with surrendering my hoped-for outcomes; with naming disappointment openly rather than letting it turn to bitterness; with lowering the mask and confessing my weakness; with lowering my expectations and asking others to do the same of me.
This is deeply challenging work for my inner perfectionist. She’s crushed.
In response, my shadow side has been leaning into the usual coping strategies. It’s been an educational experience to notice and name these, because sometimes they look like coping… except they’re fundamentally distorted and unhealthy, robbing my ability to be present to what is.
For the interested student of personality (mine particularly), I can trace my usual coping strategies along enneagram lines. My ennea 1 is attempting to bring order to my external world: lists made, tasks checked off, desk tidied, margins straight, towels changed. My ennea 9 is trying desperately to minimise conflict and avoid the children squabbling, preferring to slip into disassociation with dozy daydreams.
Instead, I am consciously attempting to welcome what is.
In doing this, I have found Mary Mrozowski’s Welcoming Prayer immensely helpful.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.Mary Mrozowski, The Welcoming Prayer
I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person, or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God, and God’s healing action within.
I’m not sure that I yet have the depth of character to pray all that whole-heartedly. But I am, at some level, grateful for the stripping of this season which invites me into humility and a deeper dependence of the true supply and support of my soul: Christ.
2 thoughts on “Put some cream on top and call it pudding”
Love your honesty Maja, and love how you can express your thoughts and feelings so well with words, we have had an unexpected situation we are walking through right now ,it’s a learning process to walk in His peace,His love and His timing. Love the analogy of baking, compared to life,thanks for the encouragement through your words 😊
I so appreciate your vulnerability here, Maja. Can’t we all relate to this feeling in some way? (At least, I know I can.) Welcoming WHAT IS has been a struggle of mine as well. I fight for what I think is BEST (fellow Enneagram 1 here), failing too often to accept what the Lord provides for my good. Thank you for the inspiration to receive with open hands, do what we can with what we have, and not throw a tantrum in the midst. You call us to something noble, even something vital. May the Lord work His grace in each of us to do this more consistently, more readily each moment and each day.
(And of course I love and (fully) relate to the baking metaphor. How well that resonates…)