My husband made a roast chicken over the weekend. I had really been looking forward to it for a variety of reasons — I love it when we can eat dinner together as a family; chicken hadn’t been on sale for weeks and our freezer stash was long gone — but primarily because the last time he made a roast chicken and veggies, it was awesome. This time, he carefully researched how to keep the chicken extra-moist and brined it several days in advance.
Saturday night came. I was eager for my chicken. (I was also starving, since lunch was pizza and cake stolen from my toddler’s plate at a birthday party.)
Well, by dinnertime, the chicken was certainly moist enough, but not all the veggies were done and neither was the dark meat. Possibly worse, the chicken barely had any taste. I was disappointed but tried to be as forgiving as possible. God-willing, this won’t be the last roast chicken that I ever eat, I told myself. Don’t sweat it! It was cheap!
Still, I was disappointed.
Harrison, however, was even more disappointed. He had tried so hard to make something that we’d all like – but especially something that I would like. (My picky tastes are no secret.) I made my best effort to shower him with gratefulness and love, despite my own feelings.
Thank you so much for making dinner tonight! I exclaimed. I appreciate it so much! Jacob totally loves it – this is his third helping! We can use the leftover meat for quesadillas!
But I could tell that he felt bad.
So often, we try our best to please each other, and then fail. In marriage or any close relationship — we are always letting each other down. We are always disappointing each other. And then always offering grace.
But he gives us more grace. James 4:6
I love that simple reminder. God always has more grace for me. It doesn’t matter what I do – he always has enough, and then he has more. I long to be that kind of wife, friend, daughter, sister, mother, dog-owner. (Okay, I long to be a dog-owner at all.)
I long to be the one who always offers more grace.
More often than not, I let my own disappointment get in the way. I let my own hurt get in the way. I let my own pride and stubbornness and self-righteousness get in the way. I only realize after the fact that I need to go to God. I need to ask Him to help me offer others the grace that I receive.
But I digress. This post is about chicken, after all.
So what happens after the disappointment? After a failure? (After the argument that almost inevitably follows, at least in our household?)
First (or after the explosion of bottled-up feelings, if that’s how you roll), there’s the grace. We find the grace to give, and we offer it.
And then, the redemption.
Monday morning, I diced the rest of the chicken while my 19-month-old stood next to me and stirred water in a pot. And then I made what I hoped would be a killer curry chicken salad. Mayo, mustard, red pepper flakes, plenty of Thai curry spice. Celery, pecans, green apple.
I was pretty sure that singlehandedly, I had perfectly redeemed Saturday night’s roast chicken.
I added too much mayo. The last time, I’d skimped on the mayo (I mean, it’s bad for you, right?), so on Monday I dumped in a generous amount — too generous, as it turned out. I spent the next half hour chopping up more nuts and more celery and more apples. I tried to separate every last shred of chicken from the bones.
Standing before the bowl of chicken salad, the irony was vivid. Now I had probably let Harrison down. I had made something that wouldn’t quite please him, even though my intentions were to make something that he’d like.
(That’s a lot of pressure for one curry chicken salad.)
Isn’t this just exactly how relationships work?
You get let down. You are disappointed. You forgive, extend grace.
You disappoint. You let down. You are forgiven, receive grace.
Harrison and I — we each are trying our best. Our best still falls short.
But He gives more grace. So that we can give more grace. So that we can redeem Saturday night’s roast chicken.*
*For the record, after it sat in the fridge for a couple of hours, that chicken salad tasted pretty amazing. A little spicy, perhaps, but pretty great nonetheless. Thank you, God, for this reminder of how you can take our shortcomings and turn them into something wonderful.