I finally bought a garlic press. I’ve been dicing up garlic into baby fine pieces by hand for ages and thought a garlic press might be genius. Because, you know, I’m that one that buys garlic by the bag at Costco…and I’m cooking for one. The garlic press was about to make my life fantastic.
So, I’m making one of my favorite recipes, and adding way more garlic than it actually calls for. (Incidentally – I make up lots of these Brussels sprouts and whatever I don’t eat initially, I chop up and save. They are fantastic on top of nachos – and if you use those gluten free multi-seed crackers, or those almond nut thins it’s not a bad way to go…especially if you use some restraint with the cheese, which I don’t, but you could! I also love them on top of pizza. SO good.) OK, back to the garlic press. So, I’m making my favorite recipe…adding extra garlic…decided to pull out my handy-dandy helper and see how much better having Mr. Garlic Press was going to make my life.
I put the garlic in the Mr. Press and squeezed. He spit some out, but he wasn’t thorough–he left some inside. So I added more, hoping the backlog would push things through. It kind of did. More came out. I added more…squeezed…more garlic…more squeezing. It was sort of working, but just sort of. I felt a bit of disappointment. Mr. Press was supposed to fix my (cooking) life, but I wasn’t sure he was any real improvement over what I could do by myself with a knife.
Because I’m me, (the girl who coach called “Brawny Woman” in Jr. High…the girl who, as a teacher, the senior boys would want to arm wrestle and compare bench press with – as if they would know they had attained man-hood when once they could best me–a right of passage for them right along with graduation) I decided to use more force. I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly about this, or I would have realized that the average girl wouldn’t be able to add more force than I was already applying, so that was probably not the solution. I never once stopped to consider if maybe my expectations for Mr. Press were just wrong. Maybe Mr. Press was doing the best he could. Maybe he wasn’t designed for 100% yield, or maybe he needed me to clear out some of the junk and start with a new clove.
In truth, I never stopped to think about things from Mr. Press’s perspective at all. I simply pushed harder and harder, insisting that there must be a way to make him work up to my standards, up to my level of expectation. I was miserable. Chopping is much easier than all the forcing and squeezing I was doing, but I can be a little bit determined and competitive…I do like to win–and suddenly this wasn’t about garlic yield anymore. If it was, I would have simply pulled out the remains and used a knife, which would have been easier and more effective—but, as I said, suddenly this wasn’t about the most efficient way to dice up my garlic, it was about winning. It was about the fact that I had expectations for this new gadget, and I was determined to make it do what I thought it should do. It was going to perform, darnit! I was going to get all that garlic through it, one way or another.
It broke…and smashed my hand a little in the process – just to add injury to insult. Mr. Press buckled under all my pressure and he broke, snapped in two, beyond repair. He now sits in my trash bin.
I was a little stunned. I confess, I didn’t see that one coming. He seemed so sturdy and well-made. He seemed like he could take pressure. I mean, wasn’t that the whole point of Mr. Press in the first place? You place garlic inside and “press”? He was made for pressure, but apparently there are limits to that, and I was so focused on winning that argument I lost sight of just how much pressure I was really applying, or how he was responding to it. Even a well designed, sturdy press has limits to how much he can take.
I stood there in my kitchen thinking about it. Kind of chuckling, I mean, come on— I just snapped a garlic press right out of the box with my bare hands…it was kind of funny. I think I heard Arnold Schwarzenegger in my head making some comment about it. And then, because I’m still me, I thought to myself, “Well, at least I won!” I mean, clearly I did win, right? Mr. Press is in two pieces – that makes me the winner. He broke. I broke him. That means I won…he definitely lost.
Ummm… I began to rethink that. Maybe it wasn’t so clear. I suddenly wondered if maybe, despite being broken in two, Mr. Press actually won, because, clearly he won’t be pressing garlic for me anymore. So maybe he is getting the last laugh after all? Ugh. Now I’m annoyed.
Then I realized that even though we both “won” our respective battle (he won’t ever press garlic for me anymore, and I snapped him in two), really we both lost. He’s broken; I’m without a garlic press. Even though we may have won, we lost. Both of us. What do they say, “win the battle, lose the war”?
So there I was, giggling about my uber-competitive nature that would sit there and ask the question, “Who won?”, between myself and a garlic press. Yeah, I’m that girl. As I was contemplating all of this though, something began to change. Suddenly I was convicted. It’s funny when it’s an argument with a garlic press. It’s not funny when it’s an argument with a person. And just like that Mr. Press began to have a face…several faces…faces of people I’d “won” a battle with, or not “won” a battle with – I don’t even remember that part anymore – but what I do remember is the breaking and snapping. I do remember the total loss.
How many times have I had an expectation for someone that they weren’t living up to, and I thought if I just applied more pressure, I would get the “right” results? How many times have I wanted someone to see my point of view and pressed and pressed, confident that the problem was simply that I hadn’t pushed hard enough, or surely they would see things my way? How many times have I pressed in so hard that someone just snapped? How many times have I “won” by breaking someone in two? How many times have I lost far more than I have won because I lost sight of the real objective and refused to change tactics or course?
Honestly, I don’t really want to know the answers to those questions. I think I might break to know “how many times” I’ve done those things.
Oh dear Jesus, please help me not to do this in the future. Help me to realize that more force is so often not what is required. Help me to realize that winning is so often losing. Help me to love others more than my own agenda. Please, Lord, don’t let me treat others like I treated Mr. Press…Please don’t let me be responsible for pushing people so hard they break.
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13: 1-8