Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Am I a potato chip?

I can't say nothing but I also can't say anything so I thought perhaps I might say something here. Today I got the following email from our Relief Society (not just me; everybody got it):
As a member of the ward activities committee responsible for ward dinners, I soon learned that after accepting an assignment some people would come through and others would not. If we were planning a dinner, it was important to know who to assign to make the main dish, who to ask to bring side dishes or desserts, and who had better be on the potato chip committee.

You see, as long as you have the main dish and the desserts, you can have a successful ward social. Potato chips on the other hand are nice to have, but if they do not show up the ward social is not a disaster.

When we profess to be on the Lord’s side, I suspect we need to ask ourselves “Am I on the main dish, side dish or potato chip committee?”
And I suppose I understand the sentiment, but it rubbed me entirely the wrong way, so to this little story, I'd like to say that people's bests look different at different times and in different situations. Andrew and I used to go to the temple every week (wow; so piety; much righteous). Now we have 5.5 kids and...guess what?! We don't go to the temple every week (shocker). But...we are doing the best that we can with the, uh, issue/s we have. Plus, righteousness is, like, well nigh impossible to measure (whether you're judging yourself or others) so good luck with that.

To borrow from D&C 84:109–110 (which in turn, of course, borrows from 1 Corinthians, but we're studying D&C this year so I'll go with that) I think a better perspective is to allow:
...every [dish to] stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the [casserole] say unto the [potato chips] it hath no need of the [potato chips]; for without the [potato chips] how shall the body be able to stand?

...the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.

Once upon a time (not too long ago), I signed up to take dinner to someone in the ward and, lo, the very day of my assignment (that, granted, I volunteered for), our breaker box essentially...died...and while we had an electrician make an emergency house call, restoring limited electricity to our house (before they came back to replace/update the breaker box the next day), we couldn't run any major appliances (so the oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, etc. were all out of commission). 

Using those appliances risked burning our entire house down (I slept well that night, let me tell you).

So we just ordered pizza and sent it to their house. 

Like a lousy bag of potato chips... 

Or was that a main dish effort? I honestly can't decide. Both? Neither?

I'm going to go with neither. 

I was simply a human doing her best under the circumstances (which doesn't look like my best under other circumstances; and which probably doesn't look like your best at all). Ordinarily we do the whole home-cooked meal, with freshly-baked cookies, personally delivered (with hats and a handmade card because we forgot how people socialize and are we over doing this?).

But this other time (years ago now), I was going through a hard time. Our van had just been totaled and my sweet visiting teacher called and said to not worry about a thing because she was going to bring dinner over. 

And she did! 

She showed up at my front door...with a store-bought, frozen lasagna. 

I thanked her for being so thoughtful, then closed the door and crumpled to the floor crying (with laughter and frustration) wasn't just that our van that had been totaled. Our oven also was broken (along with what felt like everything else in our house/life) and we really could have done with a hot'n'ready meal that particular evening. I stuffed the lasagna into our freezer and then I think we probably had peanut butter and jam sandwiches for dinner (because we were poor, had no transportation, and no stove/oven).

So was she a main dish...or a potato chip? 

Again, I'm going to go with neither.

She was simply a human doing her best under the circumstances, which I know didn't look like her best under other circumstances. When this happened she had toddler twins and was in the middle of moving. So I think she did great and still appreciate her to this day (because she's amazing). We ate the lasagna later (after we got a new oven) and were thankful for it. 

But it doesn't change the fact that sometimes (always?) our best efforts fall short of what was required or expected...and, like, that's okay. In fact, I think that (our incessant failures) is what God expects from us. And I think there's a plan for that. I think God likes potato chips. He probably crunches them up and sprinkles them on top of his cheesy casserole and together they become *chef's kiss!*

So bring me your casseroles, your jello salads, your crinkly bags of potato chips yearning to be free! 

Come as you are, bring what you've got, and together...let's eat. 


  1. Wow. I can understand that you want to know who you can rely on, but maybe this is why you ask for volunteers instead of making assignments? And maybe the success of your activity should be measured not on how good the food was, but how much socialization took place and the spirit was felt? I think we main dish or potato chips people in different seasons of our lives of our lives for all sorts of reasons. Maybe it's just that the activity is on a potato chip day, but you'll go and meet someone and you're able to make a connection that allows you to serve them even more on a main dish day.

    Maybe I have a lot of feelings about this. I think the story of the widow's mite and the parable of the workers who came at different times of day and still got paid the same amount. It not the contribution that matters! It's your heart and intent.

    Anyway. I'm on your side.

    1. Yes! The widow's mite is another story that I thought of last night when I was still fretting about this analogy. I'm glad you thought of it as well. Sometimes what looks like nothing much is ALL someone has to give. :)

      And I also said to Andrew, "I'm not sure that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, after all. I think the road to heaven is paved with good intentions as well."

      Messy efforts. That's all I've got. Messy efforts.

    2. Messy efforts are all He asks of us and it's His opinion that matters most.