I dumped the last remaining contents from a dripping can of crushed pineapple and watched, mesmerized as they disappeared into the batter now pulling together in my red KitchenAid mixer. It’s a Sunday in March. There is snow outside.
When I woke up at five-thirty this morning, I was tired. I wanted to roll over and bury myself in the pillows all around me, nest-like and inviting. But I wanted control even more, so I pulled the duvet back and let my cold toes rest on the hard wood of my bedroom floor. I padded across to the bathroom and washed my face, brushed my teeth, and set to cleaning my apartment. By six thirty the dishes were done, and the laundry from the day before was pulled off of the drying rack and folded neatly in the closet. By seven thirty I had dusted and made breakfast, and by about eight fifteen I had settled for devotions and a steaming cup of heavily creamed black tea. Already I could feel the anxiety creeping in around me, and my shoulders were pulling up around my ears, rising with the tension of a week that I couldn’t quite hand over to the easy rhythm of sabbath.
I started in a new position at work on Tuesday. It is my seventh job change, and sixth store in a seven-year career with Wegmans, and while I am thrilled to be chasing a new opportunity, this change has my life feeling a little unbuttoned right now. I have two hundred wonderful new employees to meet and to learn about, and I have a new role to explore and grow into. This is the great beauty, and the great miracle of being twenty-four: so much change and freshness and so much opportunity to lock eyes with God in the tumultuous and constant newness.
But often, I don’t lock eyes. I lock my jaw and I lock my door, but I don’t lock eyes. And so, on this Sunday morning that started with a manic need to get out in front of it all by rising even before the sun, I searched for a different way. How easily I think that I can hold this whole life in my arms, and even, that God wants me to. How readily I panic at the thought of losing my good standing at work, or of mismanaging my home, or of forgetting one detail of an obligation. How responsible I feel for living this one life well. And how often I forget Luke 9:24 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
I realized, sitting at my kitchen table that I needed to be a little more willing to lose my life, the life that I have been trying to beat into submission with a fancy planner and Lysol. And when I came to that place, I went off to my bookshelf, pulled out my favorite southern cookbook, and turned to the recipe for hummingbird cake. It’s a springtime favorite, with lots of steps and layers—the kind of baking that takes all afternoon. I had wanted to make it for weeks, but had denied myself that much time for something that seemed so unproductive.
But toasting pecans and mashing over-ripe bananas and browning butter for frosting were tasks that took my hands off of the throat of my own life. I gave up control, handing it back over to God while my hands were busy mixing the custard and sifting cinnamon into a big bowl of pastry flour. And He seemed to hold it just fine for me while I baked, losing my life to gain it back, with far less tension in my shoulders.
Ansley Kelly (‘16) is a Department Manager at Wegmans in Buffalo, New York. She is passionate about her work as a leader and often describes her job as “creating environments for talented people to be successful.” In the summer you can find her training as the bowperson on a competitive sailing team, and in the winter she volunteers as a member of the National Ski Patrol. After both of those activities you can find her sipping bourbon (neat, of course) and working on puzzles.