It’s funny the things God uses to teach us – little comments kids make, songs on the radio, a poignant line from a movie, pain. One of my biggest God-lessons lately has come from a cake. Yep, a cake. Last year’s birthday cake, to be exact.
I cried my eyes out over this particular cake – and not in a good way. I hated it. If it hadn’t been for my mum stopping me I would have dumped the whole thing in the bin. With great pleasure. It’s strange remembering that now since, a year on, I look back on this photo and am convinced it’s one of the prettiest cakes I’ve ever made.
It took me a while to realise that the reason I hated the cake so much had nothing to do with the cake itself and everything to do with my expectations. I’d dreamed and planned and prepared for this cake for months. A week before my birthday, I made the flowers and, to my delight, they turned out perfectly. I spent the week admiring them and imagining in my head just how they’d look on top of the cake.
And then the day came to actually ice the cake. And everything went wrong. The ganache icing wouldn’t thicken, and then it got too thick. The hot day made the butter icing melt, which then mixed in with the ganache making a pure and disgusting chocolate mess (which might have tasted okay but looked terrible!). It was supposed to have roses piped all over it but the icing I did get to the right consistency burst through the piping bag and fell with a great big plunk on the icing I’d finally managed to get smooth. And on and on it went.
Needless to say, it was an utter disaster.Since ‘chocolate covers a multitude of sins’, or, in my case, decorating disasters, I melted some chocolate, carelessly dumped silvery dots on it, chopped it up and stuck it around the edges of the cake. Purple sprinkles covered the mess of a top (purple because it was all I had in the drawer) and the flowers I’d admired all week got plonked unceremoniously on the top. Next step was to dump the whole disaster of a cake in the bin. Fortunately, Mum came along and saved it. She put it in the fridge while I cried a bucketload of tears and determined to forget about it altogether. The only reason it got a photo was because I wanted a reminder of what notto do next time.
So yeah, disaster. But God has this way of bringing good from disasters in a way that only he can.
See, that’s the funny thing about expectations – they have a way of ruining our vision for what’s really there in front of us. The only thing wrong with that cake was that it looked nothing like I’d planned. And it was only once I let go of those expectations that I realised it was actually quite beautiful. Not perfect, but definitely beautiful.
Just like that cake, my life these days doesn’t look anything like I planned it to be back in high school (read more about that here). For a long time I was disappointed with myself, angry even, wondering how everything had gone so wrong. But then, at the same time, I was overwhelmed with guilt for even thinking such a thing because I love the life I have – my husband, my kids, who I am and the experiences that have brought me here. I was torn. Wrecked.
Until the day God opened my eyes to the truth – it wasn’t my life which had gone off track but rather my expectations. I was holding so tightly to the vision and plans I’d had for my future that I couldn’t fully appreciate the beauty of what was before me. There was nothing wrong with where I was, only that it didn’t match up with what I expected. And to be honest, the place I’d ended up, who I am today, the work God has for me exactly where I am, far outstrips any expectation I could have had back in high school. What an incredible life he’s given me!
I wonder how many times in life we think the same. What’s right in front of us – our life, career, children, body – is something beautiful and yet we don’t see it for the blessing it truly is, purely because we’re expecting something different. Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to help us see what God has given us, sometimes simply the passing of time and other times the encouragement of a wise friends. But many times God leaves it up to us to step back, take off our expectation-coloured-glasses and truly see for the first time.
Any ‘disaster’ cakes in your life that need a bit of re-thinking?