The Mixing Bowl


I made my first batch of “artisan” bread this afternoon. It was good. I was surprised, because I’m a novice bread baker. But it was better than I expected.

While the bread was baking, I washed the big bowl the bread rose in. It’s one of my favorite bowls. It’s stainless, and the curve is perfect for keeping stuff in while mixing. It’s part of a set endorsed by a famous cook — something I never would have bought for myself.

The truth is, the set was a wedding present for a friend that we forgot to give. It was awkward, because it was someone close to us, and  the fact that I never got around to giving them the gift was a point of embarrassment for me for a long time. Eventually, we moved away, lost touch with the family, and I decided (after moving the gift three times) I would keep the set and begin using them.

The bowls are the type that will last a lifetime. They’re sturdy, meant to take a lot of wear and tear. They’re dependable, and they are my go-to mixing bowls.

Unfortunately, the marriage that they were attended to bless didn’t last so long. In many ways, the relationship seemed doomed from the beginning. The courtship was brief, and it came at the end of failed romances for both parties. It got ugly, and got ugly fast. There were children involved, and a there-and-back bouncing of emotions and encounters and brokeness across the board.

And I was there. There were things I said, but so many other things I didn’t. We talked, we prayed, we believed strongly that two people who “loved Jesus” could work it all out. But in the end it came down to selfishness which gave way to despair which gave way to abuse which gave way to a marriage that broke and took two people, their children, and everyone who loved them down with them.

Why do some marriages make it, and some don’t? I know there’s no hard and fast rules, no magic formula. I’ve always said that it’s a day-to-day decision, and I’ve learned not to judge anyone else’s crap, because I need to focus on cleaning up my own, thank you very much. But the deterioration of something so full of hope and potential still confounds me. I think about how one life touches another, over and over. In the heat of the pain, the anger, and the neglect, we forget that fact. Our influence. The way we are interwoven with others in our lives. It’s a reality of our lives … it “is what it is.”

And I have often stood on the sidelines, wanting so desperately to “do something.” Anything that would help my friends. Anything, in turn, that would help me understand.

I think about these kids a lot. In fact, every time I use my mixing bowls, I remember them and how my culinary addition began as an ill-fated wedding gift for a marriage that couldn’t make it. It makes me sad. Reflective, like the stainless bowls.



4 responses »

  1. Thought at first it was all about cooking… ha, ha, glad I read through.

    Having been married 25 years myself, I share your sense of mystery as to why some make it and some don’t. Being in love isn’t enough, being good people isn’t enough, being Christians in and of itself… isn’t enough. My wife and I are by no means extraordinary, but we have learned how to forgive and how to say I’m sorry and keep doing both when they need repeating. But I can’t put my finger on a ‘formula’ as to why we have made it this far and others haven’t.

    Best wishes to you and Bruce as you continue to live the ‘mystery’ together.

  2. I agree with Neil – none of those things is good enough. I don’t know why some marriages survive and others fall apart. It’s daunting. I feel like you, Gina, I want to “do something” but am helpless to do anything but pray. When you use the bowls, it can remind you to pray for those hurt in this situation.

    And I want to make bread!

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