I never thought I'd say that I'd have a revelation about my faith while baking. But that's exactly what happened while making alfajores a few weeks ago.
Alfajores are incredibly delicious little Peruvian cookies. They are basically a shortbread type cookie with a cooked caramel type filling. I say "type" as I had to swear not to divulge the contents of this family recipe.
Alfajores are special occasion cookies. I cannot remember a Baptism, First Holy Communion, graduation, Easter, or any other holiday with my family without these little cookies. I sometimes call them a labor of love, as they do require some effort to make. The complete opposite of slice 'n bake cookies so readily available these days. While making my most recent batch, I realized how much one could learn from alfajores and thought I would share my revelations.
It takes a few hours to make. And it's not the kind of few hours where you can set it to go and just walk away. This is no slow cooker filling. It requires vigilance to ensure it doesn't burn. Just as our prayer life needs vigilance. We can't just check in on Sundays. We need to be mindful of our thoughts, words, and actions at all times. And there are consequences if we get lazy about it. After the filling has cooked, you still never know for sure what you're gonna get. You only hope that once it's cool, that it's the right consistency. That you won't end up with a runny, goopy mess. But you just have to have faith. As in real life, one has to have faith in those moments where we have trouble seeing God's plan for us. But just follow His recipe, and you will be rewarded.
Firstly, you cannot substitute ingredients or methods. You just can't. I've tried and/or forgotten and the cookie just doesn't come out the right way. It's not the right texture, doesn't have the right taste. It's just not the same. You can't skip praying. You can't skip the Sacraments. As someone who only started praying the Rosary on a regular basis in the past year, I can tell you the days I skip a day are not the same. I can tell the difference.
While mixing the cookie dough, I start second guessing if I've measured stuff correctly. That the recipe just can't be right, it needs more this, or it needs more that. Every time. I've been making these cookies for years and EVERY time I make them I think to myself that it can't be right. How many times in life do you think that to yourself? That this can't be God's plan. That He must be wrong or doesn't know what He's doing. You question and doubt Him. But just in the same way that the cookie dough comes together in an almost magical way, just at the point you want to give up and add more flour, in life, God grants us a little extra grace to help us understand. He grants us wisdom. He grants us peace. Working full time this year has been very, very difficult for me and for my family. We all felt the side effects, consequences, whatever you want to call it. The first half of the year was difficult enough leaving 2 little ones. I absolutely dreaded going back when it was 3 kids after my maternity leave was over in March. Just like the cookies, I couldn't see how it would come together. But my first day back, the Lord gave me such a gift, an opportunity to see why I was needed outside of my home at this point in my life. The students I work with did a presentation showcasing their abilities and how exceptional they truly are, and instead of tears of sadness over missing my own children, I cried tears of joy and gratitude.
So when things get tough, and seem futile, just hang in there a little longer. Stay on His path. Knead the dough a little longer and it will all come together.