Fellow blogger and preacher, Trey Morgan wrote earlier this week about Rules for Potlucks. His story of sweet potatoes reminded me of an event from early in my work as a minister.
I was still in college at Faulkner University and traveling every weekend to work with the church in Bay Minette, Alabama. On the weekends I would stay with different members who would also provide my meals (I gained a lot of weight the 18 months I worked there). One older couple regularly (about once a month) had me stay in their home. George & Alice were a great example of a loving couple. They had no children of their own and were in their 60's. George had retired from the Forest Service and Alice had stayed home taking care of their aging parents for most of their marriage. Alice was a southern cook and homemaker; walking into their home was like walking into the pages of Southern Living Magazine. The meals she prepare and the table she set could have graced the cover of any hospitality or food magazine.
The only thing she made that I did not like was a congealed salad. A gelatin based formed food product served on iceberg lettuce . . . and she made some every weekend I stayed. My southern upbringing taught me to eat what was offered, so every meal I was with George and Alice, I choked down my “salad” with a smile, before enjoying the field peas, chicken dressing, fried okra, etc. If Alice went to the trouble of preparing a dish I was gentleman enough to eat it.
One weekend, Alice had been busy preparing a meal for a family in need and did not take time to make a congealed salad. When she apologized, I accepted her apology by confessing my dislike for it. Alice laughed and said, “I wish I knew you didn't like that stuff. I can't stand it myself. But you ate it first every time you were here so I thought you liked it.”
Although I think we both needed to work on our communication skills, we were doing something right. We were following what Paul teaches in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We were trying to demonstrate love.