I recently made a tuna melt for my husband out of love. I let myself experiment to give him the best tuna melt he’d ever eaten in his whole life. Okay that’s a little dramatic, but I did want it to be a spectacular and unexpected tuna melt.
Starting with the basic mix of canned tuna, salt, and pepper, I roasted little red tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt; I sliced pepperchinis paper thin but with just enough thickness for a slight crunch, (like construction-paper thin as opposed to tissue-paper thin); I sprinkled in paprika for a smoky hue and dried basil for a final culinary touch of green. Topped with a slice of creamy Tillamook cheddar, this tuna melt was a buttery-gold lunchtime masterpiece.
As I mixed and sliced and tasted and sprinkled, I allowed my heart to lead… letting my love for Andrew and my creative whim make the decisions. I reminded myself there are no rules when it comes to food, nothing that says this or that flavor can or cannot mingle with another. I ignored the cultural hullaballoo about carbs, fat, and calories. This tuna melt was a practice of engaging my intuition with love as the focus… the way preparing and eating food is meant to be.
This is what it looks like when I meet God in the kitchen: He reminds me to follow my heart and not the rules.
There are rules, regulations and restrictions in our culture for how to live, how to be “healthy,” what to look like, how to be successful, how to make money, how to be happy. They’re spoken through shoulds and shouldn’ts. If you aren’t reaching where the world is leading, you are failing, not good enough, wrong. This invalidates you–and keeps you striving, working, and straining to be acceptable and accepted—to belong. When you’re aligned with the world, it’s impossible to rest and to feel joy.
But, when you align with God, you automatically belong; standard rules and restrictions do not apply. You are literally perfect and welcome exactly how you are right now—broken, selfish, inadequate, messy. There’s no pressure to strive, work, or strain for anything. You can relax. Rest and experience the joy of just living as you.
How do we do that? Well, I usually take my cue from Jesus. For starters:
~ Jesus was never in a hurry (opposite of our fast-paced world). He was so not in a hurry that he was four days late in getting to a very sick friend, who died. But guess what? After mourning with his friends, Jesus brought the adored Lazarus back to life. This tells me that whatever tragedy I think is going to happen if I’m not fast enough, first, or the best, God will handle it.
~ Jesus never had a to-do list (opposite of our “to-do-lists-the-length-of-the-Dead-Sea-Scrolls” culture).Nowhere in the New Testament do you see Jesus making a list of things that needed to be done, people who needed to be healed, and lessons that needed to be taught. He lived day by day, healing, teaching, and loving as He was led.
~ He never sought success, accomplishment, power, or status (opposite of our thousands of multi-numbered lists of “how to do better than what you’re doing now”).
Jesus’ life literally revolved around one thing: Love. Loving God and loving people. You can learn a lot by watching Jesus. Beware: To follow Jesus is to be counter-cultural. The payoff, though, is peace, joy, and rest.
Over the past year I’ve been letting the world and all its rules go, and I have let Jesus sculpt my life instead. For me, love is:
~ Serving my family, from the crises to the every day mundane of laundry, trips to Walmart, and tuna melts. But nothing feels mundane or burdensome anymore because I’m following what’s in my heart. My family is where God has me working, and I feel genuine joy in serving Him, (even though I am not always happy about folding the loads of laundry piled in my bedroom.)
~ Serving my church’s mental health ministry, from the crises to the routine of meetings and planning. I don’t choose what to do for service. I simply follow my heart as God leads (often right into situations I’d rather not be in), and I do as my intuition instructs. I fully trust that in obeying my heart, God is working his love and blessing into whomever I am serving. I feel great peace that I am living my purpose, even when things feel scary, depressing, or uncertain.
When I am not busy in one or both of these places, I am resting. Praying. Listening. Learning. Making spectacular tuna melts—being reminded what the peace of God feels like when follow my heart and not the rules of the world.
“For I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
“Cease striving, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)