Bishop Swanson said Jesus isn’t coming back for a melting pot; he’s coming back for a salad bowl.
Most of you probably catch the reference. America was, for a long time, referred to as a melting pot – a place where many people come together as one nation. E Pluribus Unum. I get the metaphor, but I agree with the Bishop. A melting pot mixes everything together into mush.
I don’t want to be mush.
A salad bowl makes more sense. Different ingredients are mixed together to make something yummy, but each ingredient maintains its own distinct flavor and identity.
Of course, the Bishop was talking about the church as one body. He was speaking at the community service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. that was held at the middle school in my town. James Swanson is the Bishop of the Mississippi United Methodist Conference. He’s a spirit-filled preacher, and if you ever get the chance to hear him speak, don’t you dare miss it.
I’ve toyed with this metaphor of the salad bowl since that Monday afternoon. Like I said, the Bishop was talking about the church as one body. So I began to think about marriage and the Bible saying, “the two shall be made one flesh.”
I’ve been married more than thirteen years. In that time, I’ve been privy to women who complain about their husbands, belittle them in public, and cheat on them. I’ve also been privy to women who praise their husbands no matter what, baby them to the point of enabling, and sacrifice the very core of their own identities to appease their men.
Now, in those last instances, I’m not saying this always happens because the man demands it. I’ve seen plenty of women behave this way despite strong confident men who don’t believe for a minute this is still the 1950s. There are a million reasons why a marriage may proceed as though the two have indeed become one flesh… the man’s flesh.
I want to use my first post of February, the love month, to give some well-deserved praise to my husband, Corey. With both of us pursuing dreams and callings in brand new ways this year, I’m falling more and more in love with my man.
Because when we became one flesh in marriage, we did not make a Corey Truett melting pot of mush.
We made a Corey-and-Heather salad bowl.
My husband is a strong and confident man. He’s a leader who doesn’t mind doing the laundry. He gets up with the kids gets them off to school. That’s because we quickly realized, no matter how good I’d been at mornings with sweet cuddly toddlers, I’m not skilled at mornings with tweenagers. He is.
I’m not a typical pastor’s wife. You won’t catch me in a choir loft or teaching Sunday School. I’m not particularly good with children and I have a bit of social anxiety. I also have a tattoo and wear spike-toed boots with my Doctor Who t-shirts. Sometimes, I dye my hair purple or green or bright blue. I write novels that are never going to be published by Zondervan.
All of that is who I am, and he loves me, and that’s how a salad bowl works. He watches horror movies and The Walking Dead. He doesn’t “get” the point of reading fiction, but he loves theology and books on John Wesley. He’s really into Auburn football, and I’m a Kentucky basketball fan. He likes to think and analyze logically. I walk labyrinths and use colored pencils to pray.
We are nothing alike.
And we never run out of things to talk about.
We never stop showing one another new angles and lenses through which to view life and faith.
We are very much One. Where he goes, I go, and if it were my career that demanded new locations, then the reverse would be true as well. Where I go, he goes. We parent together. We make decisions together. We serve together.
But he is still Corey, and I am still Heather, and dear Jesus, may we never turn into mush. May we always be a salad bowl.
In what way are your relationships, romantic or otherwise, salad bowls?
Is there a relationship that makes you feel like mush? What can you do to find your identity again?
*originally published on Middle Places