Why make the decisions we make? Purposeful, random, or eenie-meenie-miney-moe’d, something persuades or propels us in one direction or another. Sometimes I just like the sound of a thing; like EVOO, or balsamic vinegar. I have a bottle of each on the kitchen counter, just because I like the looks and sounds of cooking with them. Over time, I’ve developed a real like for one; a little less for the other. I’ve obviously encountered a decision-making situation today or I wouldn’t be thinking along that line. As we age we often take on sensitivities and intolerance to various foods and environments. Mine came to be wheat gluten, and over several years I’ve learned where gluten may be hiding and how embarrassing it is to question vendors, who only sell, not make the food. The frustration on their faces when we ask “does that have wheat in it?” is obvious. But it must be asked to make the decision.
A year or two later: I made a decision on this rainy day to have a small ‘skinny coconut latte’ and I may have found a new best friend to accompany me as I blog. I still like to say “balsamic vinegar”; and “olive oil” just rolls off the tongue (double entendre unintentional, but I like it). Perhaps I began this post to address decisions. Picking it back up today however, I really do not recall that particular impending decision. But what I do see in it is this: sensitivity and intolerance! As I get older, I find I am less sensitive, but more intolerant. While that may sound conflicting, allow me to explain. For food and environment, ‘sensitive’ and ‘intolerant’ are pretty much the same. With attitudes, each of those words can go its own way independent of the other one. In the years when I was overly sensitive, everything seemed personal. Comments, actions, attitudes, were perceived as directly pertaining to or because of me. Me. Really? Someone forgot to tell me that the world was not my mother and I would not be accountable to them all. What makes us think we – anyone – is important enough to cause others to have those ‘bird-flipping’ days? What could I have done to deepen another’s frown, or increase the grit in their growl? I truly was relieved to discover years ago that the world’s happiness does not hinge on me. In case you don’t recognize it, that would be called co-dependancy. I learned it in childhood and that’s another story for another day. Isn’t it liberating to know that people can snap at you, frown and scowl, and you can just smile back knowing it isn’t your fault? Now, of course if I have offended, and yes sometimes I do, then it is just as liberating to admit it and say “please forgive”. But in the world of vinegar-dripping attitudes, just remember that even if it wasn’t our doing, we can still have a sweet effect on the vinegar, and not become acidic ourselves. Drop into their lives a little sugar, salt and pepper, chopped tomatoes, hot peppers and onions and that vinegar comes to life! We called that goulash where I came from. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) Being less sensitive decreases worry and less worry opens the path to positive reactions.
Tolerance, however, is another thing for me. When I was more sensitive, I was more tolerant in that I was prone to think maybe everybody is right, and I am not. Sensitivity for me, left me less clear about where I stood on a subject; therefore, I was more tolerant of the world’s junk. I was afraid to make a stand even with a strong platform, so that I wouldn’t stir up some controversy that might be taken personally. This is reminding me of the “double minded man” of James 1, verses 8, 23, and 24 who is indecisive, doubting, and can’t even remember his own image!! I am happier being less tolerant of the things I know my Savior taught against, even though I am still no fan of controversy! I will, in fact, go to great lengths to avoid it. That’s just one reason I like to write; it gives me time to carefully phrase, and rephrase things to avoid being abrasive. Though I would never do that intentionally, it just seems that when the tongue gets going, it is usually way ahead of the reins. So, I write.
So then, being intolerant enables me to take a firm stand when I know a thing to be repulsive because now I can clearly separate the things I cannot tolerate, from the people who do them. The people are loved, the actions are not. I learned recently that one reason the shepherd anoints the sheep’s head with oil is to cause an opponent’s head to slide off when he is butting heads in a challenge. Less damage is done. Another reason is to repel the flies that pester and fester. The Lord has anointed my head with oil, and it is so sweet. I can tolerate the pounding I may invite by being intolerant of what I want no part of. And I can let insults slide right off!
Rosemary added to olive oil gives it a touch of sweetness, adding to the oil’s many other benefits. A wonderful emollient, it also is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants; and is flavorful alone or with added herbs. I choose basil and olive oil to change our age-old family recipe for goulash. I’m sure this would not be tolerated by my grandmothers, but I think my Mama would love it. She was much more tolerant of my decisions.
Then there is the vinegar I just can’t seem to totally avoid. You know, no matter what kind of vinegar I open, it still smells sharp and tastes acidic. As the Lord anoints my head with the oil of gladness, may the Holy Spirit continue to buffer me that I will not carry acrid sensitivity, but rather joyful certainty. If I have aligned myself with the good Shepherd, I can enjoy the oil, and avoid the vinegar. Maybe that is where this post was going from the start. We can make the decision to spew acrid vinegary attitudes all about, or we can pour the oil to smooth and enhance life for ourselves and others.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Psalm 23:5