(at least not to my standards)
I’ve become a cupcake connoisseur. Perhaps even a bit of a cupcake snob. I know a good cupcake when I see one… and I can spot an imposter in three seconds.
There are so many things to know about cupcake connoisseur-ism. I won’t go into much detail here – but it’s really about the frosting—the quality and texture and taste—and the interaction with the cake—and everything going on inside the paper-wrapper. It’s a fine balance my well-trained palette knows.
I’ve eaten a lot of cupcakes to get me to where I am. Sometimes in the trenches of my training I’ve encountered awful—hideous—cupcakes. In fact you can find examples of these almost every time you walk into a grocery store. There are little cakes in six and twelve-packs on parade in the bakery department. You know them, swirled with a Crisco-based frosting—usually spray-painted to match the current season, donning a plastic toy iconic something. These are sneaky imposters, infiltrating homes, offices, and schools. They look like the real thing—the packaging, the paper wrapper, even the label states “cupcake”—but to a discriminating palate, they are bona fide frauds.
I cannot keep track the number of times I have sat with a group—or been at a party—and out comes the plate of things everyone calls a cupcake. And my friends (God bless them dearly) know of my obsession for this beloved food. They are certain my response will be one of going into a bliss-filled over-drive at the sight of these sweets. And because I hate to disappoint, I’ve been appeasing for many years. Eating the lard-heavy frosting that coats the roof of my mouth while smiling. And lying. Pretending it’s the most scrumptious thing ever.
I tell you all these things because I have stopped consuming pretenders. Life is too short. And my hips thank me every time I turn down food that I really don’t enjoy. But it comes at a cost.
The reoccurrences of cupcake sightings in the circles I circle has not decreased—but my participation of intake has. And I know there are times that my avoidance is judged as ungrateful, or rude, or whatever label you place on someone when they don’t join in with a group activity. Not eating sweets, or wine, or whatever with a group of friends can be deemed a cardinal sin. I know—I’ve been the one to deem and judge others of this very thing.
But here’s the truth, when in Rome you don’t have to follow the cliché and do as the Romans do. You do not have to neglect your values for others, just to gain acceptance in the moment—or longer.
This concept plucks us out of our adult lives and straight back to the things we were taught as teens about peer pressure. It seems odd—even silly—to revisit these lessons decades after our adolescent years. But sometimes it just makes good sense to examine our issues of not following ingrained values into a simple concept like “peer pressure.”
In short, you’re doing something other than what you know is right for you (your convictions). Eating cupcakes I don’t like—stealing me of room for good nutrition—or food I’d rather eat—or worse yet, eating when I’m not even hungry—reinforces my thought patterns into “I need to do stuff I don’t like to insure that others are comfortable.”
It’s not healthy on so many levels. In my example of trans-fatty-icing, it’s physically unhealthy. PERIOD. It’s also mentally unhealthy. I’m mindlessly adding degradation of my standards about how I eat: only when hungry; only food I truly love. And I’m sending my head wrong messages about compromising so that others accept me. And lastly—amazingly—it’s spiritually unhealthy.
Think about it. Did God say, “Go along with the crowd?” I know Paul broke his eating traditions when going out into the mission field—but I bet he drew the line at not getting drunk with the crowd he ministered to. Jesus set the same example. He hung out with harlots, and gluttons, and drunks, and tax collectors—yet He didn’t do as they did. He held to His values. He didn’t exclude Himself from those He needed to be around, He just didn’t eat crappy cupcakes.
If we’re being honest, there are cupcakes in our lives.
Maybe it’s spending way-too-much time on Facebook or Twitter or (sigh) Google+. Perhaps it’s consuming too many drinks at happy hour. Or continuing to spend time with toxic people who disregard values you hold closely.
Each of these represents a cupcake that initially started off as a good thing—or so you thought.
Facebook and social medias was a great way to connect with friends, until it overtook to much of your time at home or your job; or a connection started that led to an emotional/mental affair. Maybe you had a great intentions to meet your non-Christian friends at the bar each week—good on you!…but then time-after-time nothing about God came up, and you’ve become on par with their bar-tab. Or maybe you have gotten involved with a group at church or a religious organization for all the wrong reasons—notoriety, acceptance, getting in with the in-crowd. Or you’ve been in a group with great fellowship, but it’s grown petty, or gossipy, or would rather not focus on spiritual disciplines.
So, what now?
I know. It’s hard to stop eating those cupcakes. I’ll fully confess I’ve had my share of struggle with value conflict. But moment by moment, you can rise to your own level of connoisseur-ism with the values God has placed upon your heart. Your cupcake standards and values might not look like others. But that’s okay—because God invented authenticity. And you are authentically awesome. Those values and convictions are given specifically to you because of how much God rocks overs your awesomeness. They are yours alone to cherish and uphold.
Here’s to be authentic and only having the very best cupcakes!