This morning I took the children to pick blackberries. In spite of a few scratches, they all had a lovely time, and we came back with enough blackberries to make a small batch of jam.
I haven't made jam before.
This was not my most successful attempt at cooking. I was worried that my jam wouldn't set, and overcompensated somewhat. I produced 3 rock solid jars of jam, now consigned to the bin. I also burnt my finger.
It is not the first disaster I've had when cooking, but I am generally fairly competent in the kitchen (though not amazing) so I don't like it when it all goes wrong.
The real issue, however, is not my inability to make jam. The real issue is that I tie my identity to my success at whatever I undertake.
I want to be a good wife, a perfect home educating mother, a model follower of Jesus. So when I fail at whatever criteria I have set for myself that day, I tend to respond unhelpfully: "I'm RUBBISH at everything! Everybody else in the whole world can make jam except me! I'm such a terrible mother!"
I need to learn:
1) It is ONLY jam. Failing at jam is not failing at everything. It's not even failing as a cook, let alone failing as a human being.
2) It is ONLY jam. Actually, if the standard I had to meet was this low, I could probably meet it. The reality is that I really do fail daily - pride, anger, selfishness, impatience are attitudes I have to battle moment by moment with God's help. I am saved only by the blood of Jesus.
3) It is ONLY jam. My identity is not wrapped up in what I can do or how I look or how well behaved my children are. My identity is found in Christ. I am a forgiven child of God (not just a jam-failure).
In addition, I get to model what I teach my children - making mistakes shows we're learning something. They've agreed to pick more blackberries at the weekend so I can have another go. Hopefully I will come out of the next attempt at least unscathed, even if I don't produce any edible jam.