Parable of the Cast Iron Skillet
Being from small-town Mississippi, I have had many, many, MANY meals prepared in a cast iron skillet — the big black ones that fry everything — from catfish and fried chicken to pork chops and hot water cornbread.
Delicious. And what’s more, the cast iron skillet is respected in kitchens worldwide. Most importantly, it’s respected in mine.
But if you think you’re gonna just go into Wal-Mart and buy one . . . well, you can. They’re not that expensive. But if you think you’re going to come straight home and start to fry up some delicious fish, think again. Your skillet must be SEASONED. Not in a “put some salt and pepper on it” kind of way.
Seasoning a skillet involves oiling your skillet up and putting it into the oven at an extremely HIGH temperature for several hours. It goes into the oven a sort of grayish color and comes out much darker if not straight up black. There will be smoke. There will be fumes. And obviously, there will be heat. But once it’s done, the skillet will provide an optimal non-stick surface, that is known for its even distribution of heat, which facilitates great cooking.
As I write this, a long and extremely painful divorce process seems to be coming to an end. There has been no shortage of heartbreak, sleepless nights, loss of appetite, racing thoughts and anxiety. Part of the way I’ve dealt with the heat of this is by pouring my energy into this project — allowing God to transform my pain into something that serves the greater good.
And while this situation tests the boundaries of what I think I can take, through it all, I can say I feel that I have been “seasoned” — much like a cast iron skillet. I feel stronger. Tougher. To some degree, non-stick even. I feel like the time is coming when I will be removed from the oven and allowed to cool for a while. And when that happens, I’ll be primed for some great cooking from The Author (God).
You too, are dealing with some challenges — some situations you wonder if you will survive. You wonder: if you do survive, what will you be like on the other side? Well, The Author is seasoning you for great things. You are being prepared for the next phase of your life — and when you come out on the other side (operative word: WHEN), you will come out with a greater sense of calm. You will have seen tremendous storms, and they won’t scare you so much anymore. Your strength will become an anchor for those who witness the way you withstand the heat, and the way you allow yourself to be used for the greater good.
So in the midst of your seasoning, and hot and painful as it is, focus on these things:
- First and foremost, remember what Jesus taught us: Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world. My translation: There’s NOTHING that The Christ Within you can’t bring you through. NOTHING.
- Stay focused on doing the best you can with each day. Your best isn’t going to be the same every day, but if you can go to sleep knowing you gave your best, then you have earned a good night’s rest.
- Be cheerful, even if it’s hard. Meet the day with a gentle smile.
- Be grateful for what you have in the moment, even the small things. Thank God for that great cup of coffee. Savor it. Thank God for your time with your children, even when they misbehave a bit.
- Surrender your situation to The Christ Within, and let it go. Your problem may be bigger than you, but God is bigger than it. God doesn’t work in a linear way, which means you won’t always be able to see how God’s going to bring you through. You just have to trust and have faith.
- Help others. One of the simplest and easiest ways to get your mind off your own problems is to help someone else solve theirs. Don’t meddle, but if the Inner Voice of the Author guides you to help someone, do it. It’s good for your soul. And it allows you to sow seeds of healing — and remember, as you sow, so shall you reap.
In the midst
of your seasoning, there are many things you will not be able to control. But what you can control are your choices. YOU choose how you move through the process. YOU choose the attitude you have in the midst of it. YOU choose who you are being in relationship to it. Choose wisely. Choose from love. Eventually the heat will die down.
And then, my friend . . . THEN, it’s time to COOK!