Salty Tacos and Conversations
I slit open the plastic film and flip the package of ground beef into my crock pot. After a quick wash of my hands, the lid on top, turn the pot to high and walk away to work on laundry and check in on the football game on TV. A few hours, and a couple of stirs later, I open the crock pot to several pounds of fully cooked (now ready for nights I need to pull together a quick meal) ground beef. Feeling accomplished, I pack it all away in meal size portions to cool and freeze.
Later that week, mentally high fiving myself for my meal planning, I pull the meat out for tacos for dinner. I reheat the beef until it’s sizzling, add taco seasoning and warm up the taco shells. My husband has a work event tonight, so we’re eating in shifts. In the first round of dinner, my son and I build our tacos with refried beans, shredded cheese, and an extra dab of avocado jalapeno dip for me. He fills me in on his day as he makes his tacos – beans, meat and cheese only for him. We take our first bites and both of us pause. The taco meat is close to flavorless. I glance over at the counter, the taco seasoning still sits next to the taco toppings. Suddenly, it dawns on me. The ground beef has no salt. We add a few shakes from the saltshaker and continue our meal with much better tasting tacos. I warn my husband before he builds his tacos later that evening. But I wonder, even with a variety of other seasoning, how the taco meat could be so flavorless when only missing the salt?
“Let your conversations be full of grace, seasoned with salt, that you might have an answer for everyone,” I scrawl Colossians 4:6 across the top of my journal. Paul’s encouragement to believers from his jail cell echoes through my heart as I sit in my green paisley chair in our home office. “Lord, please let others see You within the interactions I have today,” I pray as I close my journal.
In the living room, my son sits on the couch ready for school and the dogs yawn sleepily, ready for their post breakfast nap. I grab my blue coffee mug, snap the lid closed, sling my school bag over my shoulder and we are on our way to school.
“Anything big today?” I ask once we’re settled in the car. “Just normal stuff,” he shrugs. “Anything special I can pray for you?” I probe hoping he will tell me more. He shrugs and checks his phone. I smile and hold my hand out to him for a squeeze. “Then I’ll pray for the normal stuff,” I say aloud and silently begin to do just that. May he taste the grace of God today.
“Good morning! Welcome to school today! We are glad you are here! Have a wonderful day at school!” The first half hour of my school day is spent greeting our kindergarten through 4th graders as they come in the school building each morning. As I greet each one with a smile and wave at the familiar faces of parents, I wonder, is this the dash of salty encouragement the children need?
Later, I pause before responding to an email. I steady my thoughts and pray again for wise words. As I type the answer to the parent’s pointed question, the words of Proverbs 16:24 simmer to the surface of my mind, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Will my reply flavor the interchange with sweetness or bitterness?
That afternoon, a friend closes the door behind her as she walks into my office. She’s held her smile through her classes today, but now, her face full of all the emotion she’s carrying, she opens her heart about a personal struggle. We talk. We cry. And, as she opens the door to finish the rest of her school day, I pray my words enriched her in such a way that she felt seen, heard and loved.
At home, I begin to pull together dinner again. I sprinkle Lawry’s seasoning salt and Worcestershire sauce across the chicken and let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few minutes while the pan heats up. I pull buns and chips from the pantry. The pan now hot, I drop the chicken in, listen to it sizzle and wait until it’s cooked through. On the now toasted buns, I layer the seasoned chicken, roasted green chilies, pepperjack cheese and a slather of mayonnaise. The three of us sit down together for the simple meal, just sandwiches and chips. But tonight, the flavor of the chicken is perfect – a little spicy and a zing of saltiness.
Many of us are familiar with the value of salt – preservation, antiseptic, monetary - in the time Paul wrote his letter to the church in Colossae. Now, we find salt in almost every recipe, not to make food salty, but to enhance other notes of flavors and to balance sweetness and bitterness. In the same way, grace adds deep value to our conversation. Grace preserves relationships and can begin to heal the wounds of our hearts. Grace amplifies and enhances our other characteristics. So, again, I hold Paul’s words close to examine and reflect, “Let my words be full of grace, seasoned with salt…” How can I be salty today?