ב”ה الحمد لله
I hate lima beans. Always have.
I remember in third grade, sitting at the dinner table long after the others had left, staring at the seven lima beans my mother insisted I had to eat before I was excused. Finally I consumed them, in the most painful manner. I would ladle one enemy bean onto my fork with my right hand and clutch my water glass in my left. I moved my tongue to one side. Then I lowered the lima bean down just inside the base of my teeth, holding my breath so as not to taste it and washed it quickly down with a large mouthful of water. Like a bitter pill. One down, six to go.
It didn’t help to be told me they were “good for me”.
It didn’t help to told that people were starving in Ethiopa. Send them these lima beans; they would enjoy eating them, and then I wouldn’t have to.
My life experience didn’t include the kind of insistent, throbbing hunger that would make me grateful for any kind of food, of whatever taste. (Thank God I was never so deprived.)
Not only did I not appreciate the blessing of having enough food to eat, I also didn’t appreciate the blessing that someone cared enough about me to force me to eat healthy food. As an adult, I’ve been with families where the kids fend for themselves and the adults have no interest in what they’re eating. It’s a blessing to have a parent that –whatever other faults they may have, large or small– makes you eat something good for you, even when you don’t want to.
But in that lonely dinner chair, all I knew was that my mother, who was supposed to love me, was subjecting me to cruel and unusual punishment.
And I’ve been reflecting on that the past few days, because recently God has been making me eat some adult lima beans.
Today’s lima beans are the bitter experience of reliving some old and painful experiences from childhood. Intense feelings and memories that need healing. Most unpleasant. Oh, I always feels better afterwards, but the sensations themselves are awful to go through, and I throw my little internal tantrums wondering if I’ll ever be “done” with these adult lima beans, and why I have to go through all this, and will it never end.
Just like I did when I was a kid staying late at the dinner table.
Of course, as an adult I know a little bit more about life and how things work. These days I know that there is One behind these experiences Who loves me infinitely, knows what’s best for me, and would never let me suffer any more than is exactly necessary for my growth and spiritual well-being.
These days I appreciate the cathartic power of these unpleasant adult lima beans, and feel myself growing healthier and stronger as I eat more of them.
And that makes things much more bearable.
But I still get grumpy.
And I still hate lima beans. Both kinds.
But now, when I’ve cleared my plate for the evening, I can sincerely thank my Heavenly Father for setting them before me and making me eat them.