I love to make bread. There’s something about taking these bland ingredients, combining them and creating something of such beauty in the way it looks, smells and tastes. A beautiful loaf of homemade bread feels like love when given to a friend or neighbor. Making bread is satisfying and meaningful for me.
A friend and I had a disagreement. At the moment it was a flare up of emotion, both of us feeling misunderstood and somewhat attacked. We talked a little and were able to at least…at the very least…part as friends. It took a couple of days for the harsh emotion to fade enough that I could begin to think about our disagreement, my hurt and my hurtful words. I finally wanted to see the truth more than I wanted to be right (not an easy journey for me.) I asked if we could talk about our previous conversation and we found time to connect. I both apologized and expressed what I needed in terms of the original issue. She apologized and was able to say what she meant. The matter was set at peace between us. It truly was a settled matter for us.
A key to good bread is kneading the dough. This is where you fold and press it over and over to break down and activate the yeast in the dough so that when you let it ‘rest’ it begins to rise, air spreading throughout the dough. This is the difference between bread and a cracker. Kneading may not be fun for some people but the result is nothing short of heavenly.
Communication is like kneading. It may seem difficult or redundant but it is absolutely necessary to bring life and connection between people. My friend and I had spent years practicing open and honest communication. It was what had made us good friends and it was the vital tool we needed when we had a disagreement. The result of our conversation was the aroma of peace in our relationship. The conversation…the kneading…brought beautiful results.
Another truth about kneading bread dough is that if you overdo it you can kill the yeast. Over-kneaded dough can’t be fixed and will result in a rock-hard loaf. In essence, you kill the breads ability to rise and grow. I found this out the hard way. I also found it true in relationships. Once my friend and I had settled our issue we had to let it go. Had I brought it up again and again after we’d settled it, I could have crushed our friendship. We need to communicate. We need to knead the dough. We also need to know when its time to let it go. The Bible tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. This is where our love for others allows us…compels us…to let go of minor annoyances and to forgive the major ones. Is there something you find you can’t let go of? Is there a hurt or offense that you just keep working over and over in your mind? It’s time to let it go. Start a new loaf of bread and when its beautiful and baked, share it.
Too often I talk with people who live in the extremes: either the extreme of avoiding conflict by avoiding honest conversation or the extreme of saying everything that comes to mind with thin-skinned reactions. There are certainly circumstances in our lives that are hurtful and difficult to understand and to forgive. It often seems easiest to just break relationship and avoid difficult conversations. Truth is, though, we will not only lose relationships but we will not become the best version of ourselves. Allowing our lives to be ‘kneaded’ means that we are willing to take the tougher road of working through misunderstandings and hurt, and then letting it go. We won’t always understand or be understood, but we can accept each other with grace.
So many times in pre-marital or marital counseling I have seen the difficulties that arise when a man and a woman have grown up with different family styles of conflict resolution. One family may yell at each other until they tire of it and call a truce. Another family pattern is to not talk at all and just swallow misunderstanding and pain. These two patterns cannot co-exist easily. It requires finding their own mutual language and learning how much kneading brings life and connection, and when to let it go. Its a difficult dance to learn but one that can make all the difference in our life.
If you need an example of what this might look like I point you to Jesus. He was humiliated, beaten, rejected and falsely accused. Some of his last words as he hung on a cross dying were “Forgive them, Father, they don’t realize what they are doing.” And with the psalmist we can say,
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Ephesians 4:2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Peter 3:9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.
Romans 12:17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 19:11 Sensible people control their temper;
they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.