So this is a story I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while.
And today seems like the perfect day: smack in the middle of our 10 Days Without Complaining challenge.
I’m calling it “My Cranky Cake Pan Story.” The cranky part is me, not the cake pan.
Just wanted to clarify that. 🙂
This story obviously has to do with a cake pan… a snazzy cake pan my mother-in-law gave me on the first (or maybe second) Christmas after Jeremy and I got married.
I owned an assortment of cheap dishes in my little parsonage kitchen, so I was really proud of this particular cake pan.
It was shiny and new.
It was a fancy brand.
And I just felt like the little Diva Homemaker when I baked and cooked with it.
Until that day…
Jeremy was pastoring our very first church in west Texas, and we had yet another funeral ahead of us.
If you’re familiar with small churches and rural communities, then you know what funerals mean:
Lots of cooking.
Lots of serving.
Lots of clean up.
The honest truth? I wasn’t particularly enthused about organizing the ladies in our church to cook and serve a meal for this particularly large family who had visited our church maybe twice that year.
But, I did it.
And I did with a smile because I was at that point in my life when I was sick of my own unhappiness and I was trying hard to let Jesus change me.
And I did just fine.
Until my husband decided to use my new cake pan.
You see, very much unlike this younger version of Me, my husband has always been quite energized by serving people.
While I tended to balk at the inconvenience on our time and finances, Jeremy saw the need as an opportunity to serve a grieving family, and possibly draw them into the embrace of our congregation.
I just knew that I had a lot of ham and potatoes to cook.
So I was in the kitchen cooking, with a little toddler under foot, while Jeremy prepped a large ham.
“Do you have any of those disposable pans?” he asked, rummaging in our kitchen cabinet.
I didn’t have any. Disposable stuff didn’t fit in our budget, and a trip to the nearest dollar store or Wal-mart meant a drive into town. We didn’t have time.
“That’s okay,” Jeremy replied simply.
And with that, my husband reached for and retrieved my beloved cake pan from the back of the cabinet.
I watched in disbelief as he plunked my pan onto our kitchen counter and dropped the ham into it with a thud.
My eyes flashed with protest, but my husband’s back was turned and he never heard the words that caught in my throat:
What are you THINKING, using my new cake pan?
Don’t you know these people won’t give it back?
Did you forget that we’re serving the family at their HOME, not the church?
We’ll probably never see them again!
That’s my NEW pan and I don’t want to lose it over a silly funeral!
For the first time in my married life, the words didn’t fly out of my mouth as soon as they hit my brain.
And in the few seconds that I stood there in the middle of my kitchen, struggling with myself, the Lord spoke to me.
And He said, HUSH.
Just hush. And then,
Isn’t your marriage and your own happiness worth more than that cake pan?
As silly as it sounds, somehow, in that eternal second, I knew just as surely as I was alive that fussing about that cake pan would make me very unhappy. Even more unhappy than losing it.
So I let it go.
I didn’t say a word as Jeremy prepped the ham, baked and basted it throughout the morning, then loaded it up- along with my freshly cooked side dishes- into the back of our car.
After the funeral, Jeremy and I hauled all the food for the family to their home.
I sat in the living room, chatting with the elderly widow, while my little girl played on the floor nearby and Jeremy struck up a conversation with a few of the men.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the younger women in the kitchen, unloading the smorgasbord of food our church had provided.
I caught a glimpse of my pan and felt a bit hopeful.
I can always ask to take it home when we leave. Or maybe they’ll remember to bring it back.
We left as the family began to gather to eat. My snazzy cake pan was still sitting on the kitchen sideboard, full of ham, when I walked out of the house.
We saw the family at church one time after that funeral. I never saw that cake pan again.
Over the years, I’ve thought about the crazy, cranky cake pan a lot.
To this day, I have never missed it. But I have always treasured the lessons I won from losing that battle with myself.
I learned that I can indeed hold my tongue if I choose to.
I learned that people are always more important than things.
I learned that making a battle out of every little thing results in a very poor marriage.
Today, after nearly fourteen years of marriage, the cake pan story wouldn’t even be a story.
I would simply say, “Babe, could we run to the store and buy a cheaper dish? I really hate to risk losing my nice pan.”
And Jeremy or I would drive three miles to the dollar store for a disposable pan, and that would be the end.
But today’s circumstances and heart issues are quite different from what they were when I was a selfish, young bride and inexperienced pastor’s wife.
God knew what I needed to learn, and He graciously allowed me to lose a little bit of myself, by degrees, in order to gain more of His character, His perspective.
That surrender cost me my cake pan, but in the end I gained so much more than a name brand baking dish.
And that, my friends, is my cranky cake pan story.
I wonder what little things you can let go of today, in order to win a bigger victory of joy and contentment?
Is Jesus asking you to lose a little of yourself? In what areas?
What could you possibly gain if you just let go this time?
Have you joined me for the 10 Days Without Complaining challenge yet?
If you’re a pastor’s wife, I’d love to connect with you over in our private Facebook group for pastor’s wives.