I’m always on the lookout for a new muffin recipe. One called uber-berry muffins in last month’s Better Homes & Gardens catches my attention. It looks promising because I am convinced that a muffin can never have too many berries. I’m excited that I even have a container of blueberries and a bag of cranberries leftover from the holidays in my refrigerator.
But the recipe calls for buttermilk and that’s one ingredient I don’t regularly stock. I search my refrigerator for anything remotely similar and find ricotta cheese and half and half. I decide to substitute half and half for the buttermilk.
As the muffins bake, I brazenly expect them to live up to their promise. Even without the buttermilk.
But I have a habit of extending this same guarantee to my life. In the form of expectations of my family, friendships and circumstances. If something shows a little promise, I tend to think it's a sign of things to come or I'm hopeful of what I might expect.
But I can easily get caught up in the promise. Dazzled by potential hints of bliss. Excited when all signs point heavenward. Hopeful when I see suggestions of a promising future. But that’s the surest way for me to feel disappointed, discouraged, and disheartened.
Maybe there’s a difference between a life filled with promise and living a life with promise. A life that shows promise puts the pressure on me. As if I make one misstep, one mistake, one stray word, then I’ve blown it. And how could I ever fulfill the promise to be perfect?
So I do the only thing I know how to do. I find my way back to the promises of God. It’s here in this sacred place where God treasures my heart and shows me that expectations, predictions and potential can’t lead me to a life filled with promise.
Perfection isn't very promising. In this season of my life, I feel God inviting me to open my heart more. So I trust a few pieces of it to those who I hope will value it. It feels wildly unsafe and I realize that I’ve set myself up for the very things I am determined to steer clear of -- disappointment, rejection, questions and critiques.
But God whispers that nothing – not even my deepest doubts and fears can separate me from his love. And no matter what happens -- even if rejection and disappointment come my way -- he promises to walk through it with me.
So I boldly take a step toward risk and change and love and friendship and deeper relationships. I’m not sure what this commitment promises but I’ll take the chance.
Because I’m no stranger to the most promising plans going awry. When they do, sometimes I discover a new place of promise.
When I first moved to Florida, I thought it would be perfect to spend my September birthday at the beach. But instead of fun in the sun, it rained almost every year around my birthday.
Finally, I figured out that the height of hurricane season isn’t the best time to be at the beach. Unless I liked sitting inside watching it rain outside. So my sister proposed we change venues and take a fall weekend shopping trip to Atlanta instead.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about a busy city weekend instead of unwinding at the beach but my sister was sure I’d love it. We ate burgers at The Varsity, got tickets to the symphony, toured the art museum, stopped at a trendy candlelit café just for late-night dessert, and lunched at the Swan House.
If it rained during any of my trips to Atlanta, I don’t remember because it didn’t matter. I fell in love with the city. It was everything my sister promised.
I’ve found that the places of promise I’ve experienced don’t always look like I think they will. The changes, risks, substitutions in life can all bring the promise of hope. The promise of faith. The promise of joy.
The uber-berry muffins are ready to come out of the oven and I'm surprised that they are quite good. But they might have been a lot better if I had used buttermilk.
I think I’ll save the recipe and try it again. Because I think it holds a lot of promise.
This week I am linked up with Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, sharing our posts on promises.