Tired of spending more time in the kitchen than in any other room in the house? Sick of the never ending pile of dirty dishes? Why not stop the insanity, get rid of the plates, and give them a sumptuous TV dinner? Now you can have homemade, nutritional, gourmet meals in minutes. No work before. No dishes after. But what a meal!
This ad from the 1950’s made TV dinners look like a healthy alternative to homemade and people all over the country began to pull out the TV trays and get to the important business of watching TV. My mom was a single mom, so TV dinners made sense with her busy schedule. She didn’t always have time to cook from scratch and sometimes the quick stuff is actually cheaper than scratch. In fact, try throwing together a TV dinner style meal on your own and you’ll spend much more than the manufacturer asks for his “nutritious” meal. I can still remember the taste of the fries and chicken. They had their own distinct flavor, nothing like homemade, but the quickness and ease somehow made up for that.
There is something in me that can’t see giving my family a steady meal of food that’s fast. Sure, it’s great not to have to do dishes. In the time it takes me to make one meal from scratch, I could have the entire house clean and have my feet up watching my favorite show. Still, knowing what I know about nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet, I can’t give up the time it takes to cook homemade meals for my family.
And while I don’t do a lot of frozen dinners, I can say that I have been known to frequent the drive thru a time or five hundred. In fact, my daughter Addy grew up going to McDonald’s almost daily, while some of my friends kids have never even been. In order not to be seen as the bad Mommy, we called McDonald’s by a code name, that way when A would ask me to take her to “M” after playdates, no one had any idea what she was talking about. I was saved the humiliation of having to tell other mothers that “yes indeed I was serving my child food with so much preservatives that if left out on the counter for three years it would still look the same as the day I bought it.” Eeek! What can I say, sometimes speed takes precedence over health.
Yes, I’ve been known to take the easy way out. In fact, I’d say I do that more often than I take the more laborious but beneficial way. Mac N Cheese? Great! But give me ‘Easy Mac’ and shave of 4 minutes of cook time and I’m feeling giddy. How many times at the end of the day do I look back and say, “Wow, all she had today was carbs, did I miss the mark! But hey, tomorrow I’ll try to take the time to cut up some fruit or something?” I’m serious. I have conversations like that with myself. My daughter would eat pasta for every meal if I wasn’t more diligent about taking the time to give her something from the five food groups at least once a day. Why can’t there just be a pill for that? Something that takes care of all that nutritional stuff and let’s us get on to the more fun parts of life than cooking and cleaning up after it all?
Yes, speed is often my Achilles heel. Doing the right thing just takes so much time! Even in conversation, responding to my family in love and kindness, in self-control and gentleness, takes so much more time than just shouting out what needs to be done. The whole listening thing, waiting for them to do what they were in the middle of doing before I tell them what I need done, it all gets in the way of my rapid pace and my to-do list.
Recently I’ve started to notice that my daughter and are fighting a lot, usually after I tell her quickly what needs to be done quickly so that we can quickly move on to the next thing. And my quickness meets her meanderingness like a head on collision between two locomotives. In my effort to take care of things I just want to say what needs to be done and then for it to well, be done. But now I’m starting to see that this Easy Mac approach to communication, meant to save me 4 minutes, actually ends up taking ten minutes and sets the mood for a lot more bickering as the to-do list falls apart because she won’t cooperate with my junk food approach to communication. The junk food of selfishness, complaint, conflict, impatience, meanness, disobedience, unfaithfulness, harshness and self-indulgence is more a part of the diet I feed my daughter than the healthy fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control ever is. As the branch that is meant to grow the fruit of the Spirit to feed those around me, I feel like I’ve taken to producing imitation fruit [junk fruit] that serves up quick but rots the teeth and the gut when consumed. If it’s true that no good tree bears bad fruit, and no bad tree bears good fruit, but each tree is known by its own fruit (see Luke 6:43-44,) then I’m more often a junk food tree than a good tree.
I confess that I have served the people I love too much spiritual junk food, the exact opposite of the healthy fruit of the Spirit I am meant to feed them.
And I’m sick of it.
The unhealthy relationships that junk fosters is repulsive to my spirit. I want to be done with speeding through life. I want to allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow and to blossom, producing all the fruit that my family can consume so that they can taste of the Spirit and reproduce the fruit themselves. I’ve known this for how long? And yet I fail to do the very thing I know to do. Thank God for his grace, for his relentless return to forgiveness and to mercy, without it I would be lost. And because of his kindness I am moving forward today with the prayer that his Spirit would nourish my family as I speak to them in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.