1 Thessalonians 1:3 – For we remember before our God and Father how you put your faith into practice, how your love motivates you to serve others, and how unrelenting is your hope-filled patience in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nearly daily, I find myself putting so much time and energy into problems that really aren’t that big of deal. Yet, I allow some silly thing occupy too much time and space in my life and distract me from what really is important.
Sometimes, I just need a little attitude adjustment.
Yep, it happened again last night. Recently, I bought a new cookbook. The author is Erin French and she has a little restaurant in Maine that seems totally cool. It appears so different for other restaurants. It is called The Lost Kitchen, which is also the name of her cookbook.
Having not made anything out of the cookbook yet, I was flipping through the pages, looking at the fall dessert recipes. My fingers stopped flipping when a saw one for apple cider donuts. Once I week, I drive three of our grandkids to school. This week, one of the kids is celebrating a birthday. Wouldn’t the donuts be a great treat for them as we drive to school this morning?
They couldn’t be that hard to make? Right?
I know my way around a kitchen. I can crank most anything out when I put my mind to it. A few things that intimidate me: yeast bread and fried breads. Earlier this fall, I made some apple fritters that turned out beautiful. The donuts could not be any more difficult? Right?
With apple cider now in the refrigerator, I buckled on my big-girl pants and tried to make the best apple cider donuts ever.
It did not take long for things to go awry. I mixed up the batter and it looked all wrong. Seriously wrong. Not enough texture. I rechecked the recipe and decided it needed more flour. And then some more. Let’s just say the batter turned into a disaster. Not one to give up on a recipe, I actually bailed on the first batch of dough I made. It’s currently sitting in a plastic bag in the bottom of my garbage can.
The second time, I followed the recipe to the tee. After mixing the batter together, it says to refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. With our temps in the upper 20’s, I sat the batter outside for the required time. Still too soft. Waited another half-hour. I brought the batter back in and heated up the oil for frying. While the dough was still very soft, I managed to get some donuts in the frying oil. Seven donuts and a few donut holes later, I looked at my results and sighed. After dipping a donut hole in the cinnamon-sugar from the recipe, I tasted. They were OK … but not great.
Would the kids eat them? We will find out this morning.
I kept going back over the recipe and trying to find my mistake. None was found. While trying not to get too frustrated, after spending over three hours making seven donuts, I chalked this up as a basically failed attempt at making apple cider donuts.
Then, I realized the bigger problem. I was stewing over a first world problem and I needed to move on.
Seriously. Poorly fried donuts? There are so many people in the world (including the U.S.) that would be more than happen for reject donuts. When hunger gets you down, frumpy looking donuts look pretty good.
In this week when most of us will overstuff ourselves and eat way too many desserts, we overlook the people who might not have a Thanksgiving meal to eat or anyone to invite them to a dinner. Thank goodness there are places that offer free Thanksgiving meals just because.
It’s not just the donuts that we get dramatic about, it’s a whole bunch of other things. A lady that I follow on social media shared how their house developing a water leak on the second floor of their house; right above her gorgeous and elaborate gas stove in a magazine-worthy kitchen. She was laughing while bemoaning the two holes in her ceiling and hoping they will be repaired before she makes Thanksgiving dinner in her otherwise picture-perfect kitchen on Thursday.
While this feels like a tragedy for her, it is nothing like the horrific day five families who lost loved ones in a holiday parade in Waukesha, WI on Sunday night had yesterday. Holes in their kitchen ceilings? No. Big. Deal.
Yes, holes in a ceiling really are a first-world problem. Even during Thanksgiving week.
So is discovering our favorite jeans that we would like to wear on Thursday are a bit too snug.
Or not having a favorite ingredient in a particular brand on the grocery shelf.
Bemoaning because it will be colder than normal this week, all the while we have a warm and toasty house to sleep in.
Too often, I discover myself worrying about something that for many in the world feels impossible because they are just trying to survive day by day. Even the things I share here on this very blog most often are first-world problems. They aren’t life or death. They are irritations and small challenges versus not having enough food to feed your family or blankets to keep everyone warm at night.
Before we contemplate Black Friday shopping, maybe we should first make a donation to a non-profit organization we absolutely adore. Will someone feel slighted if their Christmas present is $5 or $10 less than you had planned? You decide.
I love Christmas. I love the holidays. I enjoy decorating my house and baking cookies and sending Christmas cards and hosting guests at our house. I cannot wait for Christmas Eve worship where we sing our favorite carols and light candles that remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.
Please have a great holiday season. Celebrate with loved ones and special friends as it feels safe. But may we also keep in mind that our first-world problems – holiday season or otherwise – pale in comparison to what many people struggle with every day.
Even if our basic needs are all met, we still struggle with challenging relationships and potential disappointment. I get this. We have these experiences. Yet, there are so many aspects of life that we do not understand because we do not have to experience them right now.
Let’s be patient with those whose issues are beyond second-rate donuts. Or a hole in the ceiling. I will take the kids to school today, good donuts or not. Thanksgiving will still arrive whether all the plumbing pipes are carefully hidden behind new drywall or not.
May we think of those who will be alone and lonely this week. Those not able to purchase a turkey and all the trimming because there aren’t resources to do so. Families who are dealing with a death right now (anticipated or completely blindsided) or a terminal illness. Can we express more kindness towards those who think differently than we do or who see the world from a different perspective?
Can we drop blankets off at the school or the food pantry or a shelter so people can have them to keep warm as the temps drop? Will we pick up extra hats and mittens and coats and gloves and quietly give them to a family in need or to a place that will know one? Can we encourage ourselves and others to pick up a few less presents for our own trees and instead help someone who might not otherwise have no presents around their tree? (If you read about how Rick and I choose to give presents to others and not ourselves, Rick is getting a Milwaukee Bucks poster and Pokemon cards this year and I’m getting a Wal-Mart gift certificate, all donated through a local giving tree.)
Too often, I find myself caught up in first world problems that may feel like a big deal … but really aren’t. In the grand scheme of life, they are a -5 on a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being the most awful thing possible.
When something happens this week that gets us flustered, stop. Is it a first-world problem or not? Where does it fall on the scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being the most awful thing ever?
The donuts are ready to go with me. We’ll see how the kids respond! Or if we are stopping at Kwik Trip for their apple cider donuts.
For the reminder to keep perspective of first-world problems, I am grateful.
Lord God – When I read and see how Jesus demonstrated true love in how he served others, I am beyond amazed and impressed. May I discover ways to put my faith into practice these days and see beyond my first-world needs and how I can demonstrate true love to others. Amen.