I slide the paperthin piece of eggplant into the hot oil. Coated with eggwash it sizzles the minute it enters the skillet and I’m reminded of something important – when we learn to take the heat of circumstances, the transformation is often amazing.
I remove the golden brown eggplant from the hot skillet and leave it to drain on the paper towels. Now it’s ready to add in layers stacked in a deep dish along with the marinara sauce, topped with parmesan cheese. Authentic Italian Eggplant Parmesan. No flour coating, no mozzarella, no meat. This is the real deal.
How do you handle life when you come to the edge of the frying pan? Leaning into the discomfort is most certainly not the way we want to lean when we’re uncomfortable, is it?
I’ve been leaning away from the discomfort of writing a book about my daughter’s addiction and how God has shaped me through it because immersing myself in the story is very uncomfortable.
Writing, in and of itself, requires the writer to meditate on her subject. If she doesn’t feel it deep in her bones the writing will come out dry, passionless, and just so many words.
Connecting with others through the medium of writing requires me to be vulnerable, to write naked truth. To admit that something went wrong in our family. About as much fun as a two hour root canal.
But I have to face the truth that as uncomfortable as I’ve felt with people knowing there’s an addict in our family, I also have to admit it’s the one thing that’s made me more approachable and someone people can relate to. Because everyone has an irregular person or two in their family.
The day I come home from work to find my daughter has dropped out of school and moved to another city, I find my predictable, manageable life shattered like a glass bowl dropped from a ten-story window. The shards of glass are so many that I know we’ll never return to what once was. In that one instant, the life of our family changes forever.
That event happened twenty-eight years ago this month and the substance abuse continues despite thousands of dollars of programs, therapy, counseling, love, and more prayer from more people than I’ve ever known possible for one person. She hasn’t changed but I have.
These years have proved to be the crucible through which God has melted away a great deal of dross in my life and changed me into a different person.
So I go back to the frying pan, many times in the fire.
It’s been in that crucible, “a place or occasion of severe test or trial, a place or situation in which different elements interact to produce something new” that I learned to write. My editor, Mick Silva, brought this to light in his blog this week:
Always as you write, bring your distress to God. It may be that writing to be with God is the only way to escape the troubles it will otherwise bring…I believe your particular distress will bring the best things you’ve ever written.
Twenty-eight years of journals is a lot of writing and in them I’ve cried out to God, begged for solutions, complained, pleaded and wrote down the answers he gave me from his Word.
Here’s what I know for sure – God speaks some of his most important messages from the middle of the flames.
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Exodus 3:2 NKJV
“And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire…” Deuteronomy10:4 NKJV
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:25
I’ve made a choice to lean into the discomfort of this story. It’s a story I never wanted to write because it’s a life I never wanted to live.
It’s a comfort, however, to know that the result of the eggplant submitting to the hot oil produces what Charlie Riger dubbed “Cathee’s Death Row Eggplant Parmesan.” After eating dinner with us one night, he wiped his mouth with the napkin and said,
“If I was on death row and was asked to choose my last meal, I’d choose your eggplant.”
We’ve called it Death Row Eggplant ever since.
What is the fire dancing around you right now? Might it be heaven-sent? Might you consider these words and lean closer to the fire?
‘For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ”
Zechariah 2:5 NKJV
Who knows what glorious things he’s cooking up?