I’m still glad I made that chicken pot pie: a fable

Sometimes the sweetest joys are the ephemeral ones

Last night, I achieved quite the feat: I may have created the best chicken pot pie of all time. Or so my husband tells me. We were recently given a huge crate of free vegetables, so I decided I’d try my hand at making a chicken pot pie entirely from scratch to use some of them up. I had to tweak the recipe a little, but boy oh BOY, was it delicious! You can probably tell from the picture.

The vents were lopsided, but, oh well.

I was so happy with how this turned out. It took three hours, after all! What I did not consider, however, was that I have a long history of food sensitivities. My greatest enemy: high fat/high dairy meals. Many a fancy pizza parlor trip reached heights of culinary ecstasy, only to be followed by hours-long stomach cramps afterward. Well, my friends, not only did I create the perfect chicken pot pie recipe; I also created the perfect knock-me-out-on-the-couch-for-five-hours stomach ache recipe. Apparently heavy whipping cream and a half-pound of butter will do that.

But as I sat sipping ginger tea and nibbling on my PB&J at lunchtime—the first real meal I had managed all day—it dawned on me: I didn’t really regret making that pie. Sure, I regretted the stomach ache, and I was bummed that, for my own health and wellness, Jonathan would be the sole executor of the leftovers. But also, despite the gastrointestinal rigamarole, I was still proud of and glad to have made the silly thing.

I’m finishing up my master’s degree this year, working on my thesis while taking a class and doing some TAing in these Coronatimes. In all honesty, I am discouraged with my work most of the time. I rarely complete all my tasks for a given day, and often I feel as though the work I have done is uninteresting and unimportant (because, in all honesty, it usually is). I became disillusioned with the idea of pursuing a doctorate—my original plan—about a year ago when I realized that career path—that way of life—didn’t speak to my values anymore.

(I promise this blog post has a happy ending—it has to since it’s my first one!)

I took a long, hard look at what I’ve wanted to be throughout my life. My answers throughout grade school usually involved some combination of author-mom-hobby farmer-archaeologist-space shuttle engineer. While the latter two proved a little outside of my grown-up wheelhouse, the other ones have really remained the same. I had forgotten how much I had dreamed of having a little farm until my husband started talking about how he wanted one. It wasn’t until I rekindled my love of knitting and painting that I remembered how much I wanted to stay home and make things with my children one day. And it wasn’t until I started writing outside of my schoolwork that I remembered how badly I wanted to share my words with the world.

Wait—wasn’t this about a chicken pot pie and a stomach ache? Yes, and it still is. I don’t regret making my chicken pot pie even if I got a stomach ache, just like I don’t regret going to grad school even if I’m not going to be a professor or cleaning the house even if I have to knock off homework early to do so. I think that God lets us make mistakes, have more on our plate than we can handle, and get stomach aches from really tasty food to remind us that we’re the creatures, not the Creator. We all get lost in our heads and think we can do anything, and then something comes along and knocks us on our bottoms and reminds us, “No, you can’t, because you’re a little sinful human being living in a fallen world, and that fallen world includes getting an upset stomach when you eat foods with a high fat content.”

But my tale of pie of Icarus-like tragedy reminded me, too, that we don’t always get to pick our vocations—but that doesn’t make them bad. “Distractions” from our real work are God-ordained, and often they actually point us back to what’s really important. My stomach ache today threatened to make all that hard work of crust-making and chicken-boiling and veggie-sautéeing seem like a big, three-hour-long distraction. It threatened to bring back the gloom I try to stave off in my day-to-day life. But it wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t a distraction. I made a delicious meal that my very busy husband can still enjoy. And did enjoy, by the way—he (somewhat apologetically) scarfed some down on his dinner break before heading back into work, going out of his way to underscore just how good it was and just how happy he is that I made it. “We’ll just use regular milk instead of heavy whipping cream next time,” he says, “and maybe take a Lactaid, just to be safe.” He says he found a recipe for a “regular meat pie” that we could try next, “Since the crust is the best part, anyway.”

But I don’t regret it. I’m still glad I made that chicken pot pie.

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