My Heart's Home

February 5, 2011

Holy Mackerel

Filed under: Faith — My Heart's Home @ 6:03 pm

You wouldn’t know it if he stood in front of a tropical aquarium.

He could even identify and name Hawaii’s state version: Humuhumunukunukuapua`a!

Or if you witnessed him reading my favorite childhood book: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

But you would if you sat around my parents’ dinner table recently while we visited them in Hawaii:

My son hates fish.

Not entirely, just the finless, skinless, boneless type waiting to swim down his trachea into his stomach’s seabed. I have to give him credit at least he tried it. (Nine times out of 10 he usually won’t.) But that’s debatable. Just consult my brother, nephew & wife, my parents, my husband or myself and our opinions will all differ. My folks contend that piece of Mahi Mahi didn’t even tap his tongue before he vehemently spewed that Jonah from his five-year-old mouth and burst into tears. I argue he tasted it. They shake their heads.

We agree to disagree.

But I have to admit, it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt my stubborn child could have convinced himself, beforehand, that he would detest fish. Not unlike Dr. Seuss’ Sam I Am character who claimed to hate “Green Eggs and Ham” before even trying them. And we all know how that story ends: once Sam I Am tasted them, he loved green eggs and ham and couldn’t get enough of them!

My son is not Sam I Am.

I believe it will be a long time coming before he tastes fish again or does once-and-for-all, depending on whose side of the fence you’re on.

That four-letter “F” word became the running joke for awhile at grandma and grandpa’s. We dare not spoke it fearing he’d be further traumatized. We’d cross arms over head, duck and scream imitating him: “Fish, FISH! NOOOOO, not FISH!!” We all volunteer to donate toward his inevitable therapy bills.

Seriously though, what parent doesn’t struggle introducing their child to new foods? My son tries new foods one-tenth of the time and more often than not he likes what I’m offering. We both do a happy dance atop kitchen tiles when he does! But why is he so hesitant to taste? Does he not trust me? Does the food not look appetizing or appealing in texture? Does it smell offensive? Does the unfamiliar and foreign frighten him away? I’ve even offered him succulent, syrupy, saccharin-laden treats guaranteed to be a party in the mouth, to no avail. He’d just offer a turned up nose instead.

I wonder how many times I’ve turned my nose up at God’s sweet offerings.

Psalm 34:8 says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I was raised in ‘the faith’, but like a holy mackerel caught in a net, my faith became stagnant. It wasn’t long before something smelled fishy. You see, I was one of those Christians who loved touting the verse: “Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship” yet I hadn’t a clue what that really meant. After all, I didn’t spend time hanging out with Jesus, carrying on a Chatty Cathy conversation with Him, like I did my best friends; reading His love letter to me—the Bible–like pouring over romantic cards from my fiancé before we married; or sharing my tears, transgressions and temptations, like I might a therapist. In fact, I felt tremendous guilt, condemnation and shame because I didn’t do these things regularly like everyone else was, so I pretended otherwise, like most everyone else was. I struggled with reading my Bible, praying and obeying rules trying to be the perfect Christian. But it’s not about rule keeping or keeping score, for that matter.

It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.

I—me, myself and I—made it about RELIGION.

When in truth, it’s all about GRACE.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

Now I get it! It’s about grace and trusting God’s goodness. But if you’ve had a history of bad relationships and heartache, it will take time for wounds to heal, so one can start trusting again. In other words, you can’t expect an abused and abandoned Dog to jump on his new owner, wagging his tongue and tail, eager to play catch. It would take time for that relationship to build. My mind and heart escaped battlefields and the shrapnel needed removal before healing could begin. Then I could decide to taste, really taste. For me that meant twirling the morsel around my tongue, sucking out all the marrow, chewing it like cud, marinating on its flavor. I had to have faith the Master Chef wasn’t trying to poison me, since I’d had a history of food poisoning. I had to surrender all my preconceived notions beforehand about how it might taste, feel and smell. Nobody could make me swallow that first bite; I could clamp my mouth shut and be none the wiser.

Before it tapped my tongue I could spew it like Jonah from my lips.

Like a fish to bait, I needed to take that first nibble on my own before I could be hooked on all of God’s goodness. That’s what faith in action is all about. True faith.

My son hates fish and may be finicky, but what upsets my stomach more is being a finicky Christian.

So I’m doing my own happy dance before God, because I now know, believe and trust that He’s the only one who truly can satisfy my soul’s deepest Spiritual hunger and thirst. I still lose my footing now and then, but as long as I keep dancing and stay in step with Him, I know I’ll be fine.

For I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

But it was a long time coming.

Thank God He’s patient with finicky ones like me.

In turn, I’ll try to show more patience and grace toward my own finicky child.



1 Comment »

  1. Great post, Karen! Love your analogy to your son’s finicky eating. What a great reminder to all of us to taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Comment by Annette Stonger — February 7, 2011 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

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