Banana Bread Therapy

At the end of an exhausting week, I feel like I only know three things:
1) I want to follow Jesus
2) I’ve over extended myself this week to a point of being too tired to do a whole lot of anything, including following Jesus…or anyone, anywhere.
3) Banana bread & worship music refreshes my heart and soul.

bananabreadtherapy~

Cooking and cleaning have always been my weird coping mechanisms. That’s right, I said cooking. Go ahead, laugh, I’ll wait.

Okay, now that those of you who know me well have gotten a good laugh in, and those of you who don’t know me are confused, allow me to explain:

Historically, I’m not a great cook.

While I come from a family full of wonderful Mexican-American women who are master chefs and bakers, I technically was raised three hours away from them by a woman whose idea of cooking involved taking something out of a store bought freezer bag and putting it into the oven. So naturally when I got out on my own, I didn’t have the first idea of what to do in a kitchen.

I’m talking the “I’ve burnt Malt-o-meal” level of not knowing how to cook…

Thankfully over the last few years I’ve figured out how to prepare not only edible food, but really delicious fancy meals that I never would’ve thought possible.

(Unfortunately I didn’t acquire this talent until the year after I taught a cooking class at DSS. Consider this my formal and utmost apology if you were one of the students who suffered through that hellish year with me… Y’all seriously deserve an award for not killing me; especially on the days when I gave you knives & that became a very real possibility.)

Anywho, even before I actually knew how to cook well, banana bread was a simple enough recipe that I could whip up a batch without giving anyone food poisoning or burning down my house (both solid benefits in my opinion).

The simplicity of the recipe also allowed for me to accomplish something while not using a whole lot of mental power– banana bread provided me time to process and pray.

I’ve made banana bread at weird times in my life:

There’s been grief banana bread when I processed the deaths of my grandfather and best friend, and again when I lost custody of my god-kids.

There’s been worried banana bread when I’ve sobbed and begged God not to take my mother away from me because of her failing health.

I’ve gone on banana bread baking binges during times of stress (Usually during undergrad and grad school finals when I probably should have been studying. C’est la vie.) and extreme anger (Some girls destroy their ex’s belongings, some bake bread. Sue me…)

In the weirdest way possible, banana bread is the way that I connect with God when I can’t really figure out what else to do.

And at the beginning of this week, in true “God knows” fashion, a ridiculous amount of bananas were donated to the school. On Monday, when the bananas were still ripe and delicious, I didn’t think much of it. But then again, at that point in my week, I was still rearing to go…

But slowly, as God has shown up dramatically in more areas of my life and the school this week, the enemy has slowly begun to beat the living daylights out of me.

The last three days of my week have been annoyingly marked by spiritual attack. Thoughts akin to You’re an idiot. Why on earth do you even work at the Street School? You’re not doing anything here. You should just leave. You’re worthless. You couldn’t even be a good mother-figure, that’s why God took away your kids. Why are you taking care of Hailey? You’re terrible at this. mixed with incessant and unexplainable car problems left me exhausted and crumpled into a heap by this morning.

“Coincidentally”, shortly after confiding in a friend this morning that I felt beat down, I glanced over and noticed those same bananas sitting on the snack shelf in my classroom. In just a few days time, they had gone from the perfect snack to slouchy, brown banana-bread-only material (an amusing metaphor for how I felt this morning). In that moment, I knew exactly how I would be spending my night.

And so, this afternoon I bagged up the squishy banana mess, grabbed the few cans of the disgusting unsweetened apple sauce that someone brought me from a food bank a few weeks ago, and I headed home.

With my hair thrown up into a bun and worship music blasting, I went to work– mashing, mixing, and stirring– praying and arguing with God out loud like an absolute nut, alone in my kitchen. Within the hour, my house was filled with the familiar smell of banana bread and my heart felt a million times lighter.

However, the struggle still isn’t over.

The grief of losing my god-kids still hasn’t subsided even after four years, and given what week it is, I don’t expect it to any time soon. The fear of my car imploding and not having money to replace it still lingers in the back of my mind. But the beautiful pictures of God drawing my students to Himself, bringing ex-students back to the school to heal old wounds, and breaking down walls within my own heart that I didn’t even realize existed has silenced the nagging voice of the enemy and reminded me that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
   His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might, He increases strength through banana bread.”

(Isaiah 40:28-29…mostly)

 

If you need banana bread therapy too, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s healthy, sugar free, and FREAKING AWESOME.

Also, if you intend to use the above recipe, I agree with Kathryn Bronn’s assertion that you can never have too much cinnamon. You can read about what God’s teaching her in the kitchen, by clicking here. She’s marvelous; you won’t regret it.

I think…

I think too much.

Sometimes I think that my overthinking comes from living alone and having nearly twelve beautiful hours of silence to process my chaotic life between the times when I get home from work and the time that I walk out the door the next day.

Sometimes I think back to my childhood and realize that I’ve always been a deep thinker. While my social butterflies of sisters would be off gallivanting about the neighborhood, I would usually be doing something nerdy like looking at rocks in the backyard and thinking out loud about what minerals or fossils they might contain. (Let me tell you, talking to yourself out loud about rocks is not a great way to win friends at the age of 7…or 8…or 9.)

Then sometimes, I think about the way that I process arguments and conversations after they happen. I can’t help but think: What could have gone better? What would have happened if that one little thing had gone differently?

And at the end of all of my thinking about thinking, I realize that I am once again, indeed thinking.

My thinking is a problem, really. (Although, I would personally rather be an over-thinker than an under-thinker if I had to choose. But moving on before I make any more snarky remarks…)

My problem doesn’t necessarily come from the fact that I sometimes think out loud, leading me to talk to myself (or my dog), but from the fact that when I start rehashing my life, I’m usually not talking to God. In fact, I usually am taking my eyes completely off of God. I’m essentially saying,

God, I don’t like how that ended. If You could please put Your Sovereign Knowledge and the good that You’re trying to work here on hold for a minute so that we can tend to my selfish needs, that would be great.”

I will literally dissect and analyze a troubling conversation to death before I offer it up to God, and usually by that time, I have internalized the conversation on a deep level. I understand that sometimes internalizing conversations is beneficial to us as humans and as Christians, especially if the conversations were encouraging or full of wisdom that we need to hear.

However, mulling conversations over and over can easily become detrimental to our walks with God if we aren’t careful with what we are over thinking.

My most recent example of this?

My mother and I don’t have a great relationship, and unfortunately we haven’t for a rather long time. For the majority of the last three years, we haven’t spoken to each other, but just last month she got back in contact with me. For the first few days, I felt like I had a normal relationship with my mom. We caught up on what my siblings were up to, her recent divorce, the happenings of her sunflower farm and ranch, and the like, but unfortunately that quickly fell away and the patterns of verbal abuse that I had grown up with began to return.

Some days when she would call and drill into me, I would turn the other cheek, pretend that her stabbing words didn’t bother me, and give her an excuse as to why I had to hang up. Other days I would blow up at her, serving her insults right back. But no matter how the conversations ended, I always mentally replayed and analyzed them, yet very rarely did I pray for guidance or wisdom.

Last weekend, after absorbing several weeks of verbal assaults I finally blocked her number and tried to go back about my life.

But by then, the conversations and lies were already written on my heart.

Had I simply run to God after every conversation and confrontation and let Him heal my brokenness, I know that I wouldn’t have been so deeply wounded by my mother’s words or the words that came out of my own mouth. But instead, I had replayed them and let them take root in my heart. Slowly her words became my words:

“You’re never going to go anywhere.”

“You’re worthless.”

“You were a mistake.”

“You’re just like your father.”

And because I had started believing these lies, I couldn’t hear the truths that God was speaking into my life at that same time:

“You’ve been accepted into this graduate program because I’m taking you somewhere.”

“You are worth my Son’s life.”

“I created you for a reason.”

“You were created in My image to become more like your Father.”

I don’t think that over thinking is a disease that you can magically be cured of, and I’m honestly still not sure that I would want to be cured of it if this was a possibility. However, I do know that I need to remember where my healing and love comes from, and that is not from my own heart or mind, but from my God.

I am not doing anything productive by metaphorically beating my head against a wall, but God, the author of the Universe (and my own weird brain) would be able to do something with my situation, if only I would offer it up to Him instead.

What is God trying to tell you right now? Can you hear Him? Or are you thinking over your plans and actions instead of offering them up to Him?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

~Philippians 4:6-7