I usually find joy in completion. For me the simple act of ticking off a box is a virtue, a frantic goal, a religion all its own.
Last July, I tried to make the flag cake featured in the New York Times cooking section. In the photo, there were stripes of red berries on a whipped cream field and glorious blueberry stars tucked into a perfect chiffon rectangle. I could almost see them twinkling.
For my cake, I gathered first class ingredients. My blueberries were ripe and juicy, my raspberries plump and firm. My cream was organic. My beaters were cold.
But in my own kitchen, the recipe (or maybe the cook!) failed. My chiffon drooped like an old wedding dress, stained with berry juice where crisp white stripes should have been. My red was pink. My berries slumped. The cake was complete, but the work was far from done. Completed, yes, but a kitchen failure.
Horror turned to humor and I Instagrammed my work, showing the dramatic comparison of the impossible ideal next to my droopy reality. “Nailed it,” typed one friend. “Cake boss,” said another. “Close your eyes and eat it,” counseled a third. It remains my most popular post to date. (And it was delicious!)
Maybe the gospel of completion is not the finished task but the opportunity for joy in the sharing of our failures. Perhaps in the flaws, Jesus can come in.
Where have you found joy in unexpected places? How can you find it more often?
Lord, help me bring my good works to you and find joy in them, for me and for others. Amen.