Kitchen Theology

If you were raised by a Southern mama, you know certain things. Manners are a must, sit up straight, and Sunday is the Lord’s day, just to name a few. I was raised by a genuine Charleston born Southern mama, which means these lessons are engrained in me—especially as I am now a Southern mama myself! So I know moms in general have a lot of wisdom to share, but I believe some of the best lessons from our mothers are passed down without fanfare. These gems are disguised in the everyday happenings and interactions which may appear ordinary but are indeed significant.

While I attended Charleston Southern University, my mom visited the campus to help with a student gathering. After the event wrapped up, we walked to her car to load up the left over items. When attempting to open the door, we realized the car keys had been locked inside the car! With our hands full, the combination of “what now?” and frustration hit us both. Fortunately, one of the university’s well-loved security guards, Roger, noticed our pitiful predicament and walked over to help. Roger’s calm and friendly demeanor put us at ease as he walked around the car assessing the situation. He grabbed a few handy tools and within minutes had the door open! What could have been a long and stressful afternoon was quickly resolved. In appreciation for his kindness, my mom gave Roger an apple pie left over from the gathering, one of her most-loved homemade desserts.

To my mom, her gift was nothing extraordinary or special; it was simply a symbol of her appreciation for someone who went out of his way for her. Giving Roger the pie took minimal effort yet made a significant impression. I still cross paths with Roger on occasion, and despite the brevity of that single occurrence (and that was the first and only time he met my mom), he faithfully asks how she’s doing. Nothing makes a Southern daughter happier than hearing others ask, “How’s your mama?” And Roger frequently mentions that apple pie—despite the fact that it has been twenty years since that day.

Proverbs 16:24 reads, “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Daily we have opportunities, big or small, to share that honey-like goodness of positivity in someone’s life. Kindness does not have to cost anything and can take a fraction of a minute. Do you need a recipe for kindness? Here are a few ideas: Make eye contact and smile at the stranger in the grocery store, give heart-felt compliments to coworkers, write a note to a teacher doing an extra special job, cut the lawn of an overworked single parent or neighbor on vacation, or perhaps pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru. Kindness leaves a wake of inspiration that can last a lifetime.

I am only six years into my journey as a Southern mama and grateful for the “steel magnolias” before me who have set the bar high. When it comes to teaching my kids life lessons, I am sticking to my roots—manners and biblical truths. I know this world is more complex than the one I grew up in, and rearing kids to impact our often hardened society can be daunting. We are in a world that needs more goodness, grace, and love than ever—especially when it is not deserved. It is my prayer that even in the most mundane of daily interactions, as my mom demonstrated for me, opportunities occur to demonstrate simple kindness to others can be as sweet to the soul as apple pie.

By Lili Heiser