I’m one of those types that loves to skip steps and get straight to the result. I’m a step-skipper. Sometimes it makes me very productive. Other times, it gets me into trouble. Like the time I didn’t think it was necessary to prime the ceiling before I painted it. I ended up with peeling paint. No bueno.
One of the biggest lessons that I’ve been learning in my 9 years on the mission field is the necessity to take things back down to scratch and pay attention to all the steps. This has applied in so many areas of my life, from cooking food, to shopping, to sharing my faith. Let me explain.
“Scratch” is the word I’m using to describe the fundamental building blocks.
If we are talking about shopping, it means knowing all the necessary ingredients and seasonings that go into food, because pre-packaged food and pre-mixed seasonings aren’t available in many places where we have lived. Sometimes you have to catch your own food.
Fresh is best, after all.
If we are talking about hanging curtains, it means measuring, shopping, cutting and sewing. I have yet to find pre-made curtains here. I also really appreciate being able to provide a little privacy from the outside world, so nobody needs to know how crazy we really are.
crazy that crazy.
All of these things take a LOT more time than when you have a Walmart or Target around the corner, and I knew how to do NONE of them when we moved to the mission field. Surprisingly, we didn’t starve. When we spent a few months living in a village for language school, God supplied us with a kind lady who cooked for us. That wasn’t the plan, but since she had to eat our food (she was our childcare provider while we were in class), she realized I needed help. And lots of it. I didn’t have a clue what to do with the piece of meat we had carved off the carcass hanging by a hook at the “butcher.” I didn’t want to have a clue. But she turned it into something magical, and we survived.
One weekend, I figured I would wash some towels “by hand” to ease her workload (apparently she felt I needed help with laundry as well, which was absolutely the case.) I put WAY too much soap in the water, and quickly got tired of trying to rinse it all out. When those towels dried a day later, they could stand up on their own, they were so stiff from the soap still in them.
I’m happy to say that I can do many of these things now. It’s been a learning process. I know and understand the work that goes into washing clothes by hand or making an entire meal from scratch. It’s not easy. Very few things out here are. Anything from scratch takes time, elbow-grease, planning and patience.
But when did planning, hard-work, and determination ever hurt anybody? And the compassion I have for the people that live around us is something that is completely necessary for us to be able to reach out to them.
Sometimes you gotta go through stuff to understand people.
Sometimes you gotta get things back to scratch so you know what goes into it.
Sometimes starting from the beginning is the very best place to start.
Be looking for Part 2- “How I Had to Take My Faith Back to Scratch“, where these lessons on taking things down to scratch have dramatically changed how I share my faith, with others and with my children.