Which tier?

  We were young, in love, and broke. Excited to get married, but without much money to make it happen.

 

As my husband and I planned the wedding, we kept things simple and looked for ways to cut costs. We decided to skip the tradition of keeping a top tier of the wedding cake for our first anniversary. That seemed to be a waste of expensive dessert.

 

We opted for a three layer cake that would feed everyone at the reception.

 

Our wedding was on a beautiful, hot, and sunny August afternoon. After the ceremony, the bridal party went to a garden to take pictures. Considering we had a 4 pm wedding and were serving people dinner at the reception, this was a risky choice. Sure enough, the photos took longer than anticipated.

 

We arrived late to the reception. Our guests clapped upon our arrival, but I got the impression it was as much for the relief they would get to eat soon as it was for joy in our new union.

 

In the midst of this stress, someone on the wait staff asked where I wanted to put the top of the cake. I answered quickly to put it on a table off to the side. I forgot that we did not have a top tier to save.

A top layer, meant to feed 30 or more people, was not served.

 

I kind of wish I could have seen our guest’s faces when they received their tiny slivers of cake. Or maybe I don’t. The wait staff was kind enough to give me a normal size piece so I didn’t really realize what was going on. Oops.

 

The problem in this scenario wasn’t that the tiers existed. It wasn’t that we chose a cake with three tiers instead of four. The problem was a misunderstanding about which tiers we were talking about.

 

I think this is a lot like friendship. Like it or not, friendship has tiers.

 

Some friends are part of our biggest tier. The one shared with the majority. People who share in our life events, but not in our deepest secrets. Others are part of our smallest tier. The few people with whom we share our most intimate moments. Many are part of the tier in between.

 

Tiers in and of themselves are not bad. We are meant for community, but our capacity for relationships is not unlimited.

 

But, like my wedding day, problems can surface when we are not on the same page about our tiers.

 

I have a friendship I used to find frustrating. I considered this person part of my smallest tier. I loved getting together. I wanted to see her often and share the most intimate details of life. But I always had to be the one to call. And we never got together as much as I wanted. Slowly, I began to realize that I was part of her medium tier. We were not on the same page.

 

The temptation was to throw away that friendship. To hold a grudge against her for not calling me first. To assume she didn’t like me. To dwell on frustrations.

 

But throwing away friendship wastes beautiful cake. I just needed to adjust expectations.

 

At our reception, we didn’t notice the cake portion was small. We simply enjoyed it as part of the celebration. Then, when we realized what happened, we adjusted. We made more room in our freezer. And we made plans to share cake on our anniversary.

 

We are not in control of which tier our friends place us in. We are in control of how we respond.

 

Enjoy each friendship for what it is. Realize that just because you are on a different tier in someone else’s life than they are in yours does not mean they don’t like you. It just means their top tier is taken.

 

And remember that unlike cake, our tiers are not static. A person who is on the medium tier at one point in our lives may be on the small tier at another point. And vice versa. So let’s not throw out the cake. Let’s adjust our expectations and enjoy the sweetness friends bring to our lives.

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14

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It is Okay

“It’s okay to have grilled cheese for dinner, you know.” Believe it or not, I found those to be great words of wisdom from a friend. Encouragement at a time I needed it.

I was sick. I wondered aloud whether I could actually do something like take a nap. My friend reminded me that it was okay to take a break. That it was okay to not always work hard at everything.

Why can resting sometimes be the most difficult thing?

I am an achiever by nature. I like to get things done. I like to do my best. And so, when I read the Bible, I focus on verses like Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

When I read that, I think, “Yes. I’m doing pretty well at this Christian life thing.” But then I read I verses like Exodus 20:11

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Oh. That one I’m not so good at.

If God rested, why do I think I don’t need to?

Because sometimes rest feels like a burden. Rest may mean I can’t check everything off my to-do list. Rest may mean that I have to settle for a mediocre outcome on something I wanted to be fabulous. Rest may mean I have to say “no” to something I wanted to say “yes” to.

Rest means I have to shift my priorities. It can be frustratingly difficult.

But it is meant to be a gift.

God instituted the Sabbath after the Israelites left their lives as slaves in Egypt. He was releasing them. Reminding them that they did not have to work every moment of every day. With Yahweh as their God, they did not have to live as slaves anymore.

With Yahweh as our God, we do not have to live as slaves anymore either. We are not slaves to tasks or goals or recognitions.

Rest is a reminder that the world keeps spinning even if I am not running on it. One less checked-off task does not bring the earth to a halt. Rest is a reminder that it is okay to be average sometimes. Maybe even below average.

Because my value as a human being is not based on what I do; it is based on what I am. And I am a beloved child of God. I do not have to earn that identity; I just have to accept it.

So today, I want to say to you what my friend said to me.

It is okay.

It is okay to not be fashionable. It is okay to get a B (or even a C) in a class. It is okay to leave work at 5 pm. It is okay to buy pre-made Valentines and not craft your own. It is okay to go to bed before your inbox is emptied. It is okay to take breaks from social media. It is okay to not stay up-to-date with every current event. It is okay to let other people down. It is okay to sometimes take the easy way, even if it is not the best way.

It is okay.

I did end up taking a nap. And the house wasn’t picked up when my husband got home. And we made frozen pizza for dinner. And I wore a sweatshirt. And my kids had too much screen time. And I didn’t read any of my book.

And it was okay. The world kept spinning. And I kept being loved.

What "It's Okay..." statement do you need to say to yourself today? What do you wish you could say to someone else? Do you ever have trouble resting?