I have been learning how to make a lot of new recipes since we moved to Nagpur. My friend is an excellent cook and has taught me most of the things I know so far. Ben has had to put up with a lot of experimenting, and some instant noodles when I get tired of cooking. One of the most important Indian staples is roti, a thin flatbread served with almost every meal. It’s made with only wheat flour, water, and a bit of oil. You roll the dough (pronounced “dove” here…) very thin and cook it on a pan. Then you toss it right onto the gas burner so it puffs up in the middle. You top the finished product with a little butter.
Making roti is one of those daily tasks that made me crazy at first. It looks so easy, but it’s not. You have to be perfect or else the roti won’t be good, and your friend will look over your shoulder and say things like, “that roti is too thick on one side” and “that’s way too much butter.” But once you get the hang of it, it can be an enjoyable task – an outlet for the perfectionist to strive for delicious precision. I’m still a beginner, but every once in a while I get a perfect, thin circle that puffs right up on the open flame. I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction from such success. Food is kind of a big deal here.
Anyway, I have learned two things from this sometimes maddening, sometimes strangely soothing task: slow down, and be gentle. The rolled dough must be a perfect circle. In order to get a circle, you cannot go quickly with the rolling pin, and you can’t push down like you would a pie crust. Otherwise, you get a roti shaped like a “map of India” (or so my friends say). Or a square… heart shape… I have made all of these. Sometimes it’s so hard to slow down.
Strangely enough, I have been learning similar lessons spiritually. God is teaching me to slow down. Mission work in India is proving to be a much slower process than expected. As I’ve shared before, sometimes it feels like we are not accomplishing anything important. My instinct is to force our way through and create our own opportunities, but God is telling us to slow down and do it His way, the right way. Luckily Ben is leading us and has great discernment moving us forward. But it is so hard for me to quiet myself and wait. We could easily make something happen and call it God’s work. But our own efforts will not stand the test on the day of the Lord; we need God’s power behind what we do.
I am learning a lot of discipline here. It takes discipline to wait on the Lord and be content. It takes discipline to not eat an entire box of Honey-O’s just because I’m bored; to exercise when it’s just me and a yoga mat; to roll the roti slowly. I read this passage of scripture this week and have been returning to it daily as a reminder:
“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131