Sunday, March 3, 2013

Brown Bananas

     I buy bananas every week when I go to the grocery store.  I am the only one in my family who particularly likes them.  As a result, by the end of each week I have at least three or four soft, brownish black bananas adorning my counter.  This week was no exception. Most weeks the bananas get tossed in the trash or blended into a smoothie.  This week, I decided I was going to be ambitious, because, for me, baking is always a very ambitious undertaking.  My baking ventures don't often end well nor produce anything edible.  Quick breads I can handle as they do not mean baking from scratch and involve no rising or kneading of any kind.  So, on Friday, instead tossing my bananas (hey-  it's better than tossing cookies, right?), I spent fifteen minutes digging for my mother's yummy banana bread recipe.  As I began baking, a friend who had been on my mind all week once again entered my thoughts.  I decided I would drop one of the two loaves the recipe made off at her house that evening.  I added some chocolate chips and sprinkled brown sugar on the top to make it extra special (and extra unhealthy- but who really wants "health bread" when they're having a hard time?)  That evening, I dropped the loaf off at my friend's house.  As I sat and visited with her, I realized what a hard time she had been going through the past week.  I felt guilty for not having called or visited her earlier, but I felt good that I had gone over that evening.  As I left my friend's home, she gave me a heartfelt thank you.  She seemed so much lighter, like a small piece of her tremendous burden had been lifted.

     Sometimes I hesitate to serve others because in my perfectionistic thinking, I feel like the service I provide has to be a grand production.  I can't bring dinner to someone unless it is the most gourmet meal they've ever eaten. I can't invite anyone over unless I plan a Martha Stewart worthy event. On Friday I more fully realized the truth of one of my favorite quotes.  Mother Teresa said, " I cannot do great things; only small things with great love."  Something as simple as bringing a friend a loaf of banana bread had brightened her day and lightened her load.  Wheels started turning and I came up with a plan.  I realized that I threw out brown bananas at the end of almost every week.  Why not make a loaf of banana bread for someone different every week and bring it to them with a warm smile and a listening ear?  I am not a great baker.  Sometimes I feel I have few talents.  But this was something I could do. I could make a loaf of banana bread a week and I could let someone know I am there for them.  It is hard for me to relinquish control of things.  I fret and worry and try to please people because I have an insatiable need for everyone to like me.  I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I have absolutely no control over whether people like me or not.  But I have total control over how I treat others.  I can be kind.  I can seek out others who are struggling and let them know I am there for them.  And I can do this with chocolate chip brown sugar banana bread.

"Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

-Marjorie Pay Hinckley