This morning, I exited our back door onto our deck to persuade our dear beagle, Walter, to come inside before we left for the grocery store. I glanced to my right, and, to my surprise, three asparagus stalks stood proudly next to our shed. I made a mental note and proceeded with our morning plans on this Easter Monday.
On our way to the store, I observed the heavy, dark blue clouds in the west, headed our direction. Knowing that a thunderstorm was imminent, I decided to make sure everything was put away upon returning home. I pulled our recycling bin from the curb, put it in the garage, and retrieved our trash can as well. I took it to the back yard where we hide it by the shed to remain in compliance with our HOA’s rules regarding trash cans. I spied the asparagus stalks again and decided to eat them for lunch. I snapped them at the base of the stalks and brought them inside.
I broke them into pieces which would fit in the small frying pan I already had out. I sprayed the pan with some olive oil spray and turned the heat on. I proceeded to heat the asparagus in the pan with some salt and pepper, pulled out some leftover Easter ham to heat up for my lunch. Lest you begin to think that this is a foodie blog, I am going somewhere with this.
This asparagus shows up every year. Sometimes I eat it. Sometimes it grows too fast for me to pick it, and the stalks become too large. But it always shows up.
It feels like grace.
I didn’t plant that asparagus. I don’t water it. I don’t fertilize it. It just grows, and if I partake of it, it gives me nourishment. It’s completely free. For me. Someone paid for the plant or the seeds at some point. I reap the benefits of their payment.
This Easter Monday found me reflecting on my sin–one sin in particular–my sin of hypercriticism. “Hyper” meaning “too much” lends to me feeling free to dish out too much criticism for OTHERS. My constant drive for improvement and seeing people reach their full potential has turned ugly and graceless again and again. I find myself unable to let go of a “teachable moment” which turns into a situation where I am nagging a poor child to death over their infraction. It’s awful. I see all the faults everywhere, all the time. This can be used in a good and holy way, but I’ve often found that I’ve hurt people as much as I’ve helped. Maybe more so? In my attempts to correct and right all the wrongs in the world, I prove that I’m a true hypocrite–“hypo” meaning less–less critical of myself than I am of others.
I found an episode of Ask Pastor John dealing with this, and I found that even John Piper, godly man that he is, struggles with this sin as well. You can read his response HERE. My great takeaway from his response was to see my own faults, see how God has responded to them, and choose to treat people better than they deserve. I can’t forget what I’ve been saved from and the grace He has extended to me. No amount of self-improvement will merit me the grace that God extends to me for FREE. Jesus paid my debt to the Father for this very sin, and He offers me His grace in exchange, full and free.
Everything’s coming up grace–both me and the asparagus.
2 thoughts on “Finding Grace in the Asparagus: Reflections on Sin and Self-Improvement”
So good! Thank you for writing, Amanda!
A much needed read for me. Thank you..