The macaroni principle

If Collin had it his way, he would eat macaroni and cheese for every meal, every day. It’s pretty typical for a 3-year-old, and who could blame him? Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. But, boy cannot live on Annie’s shells and cheddar alone. And so begins the conflict.
We stopped asking Collin what he wanted to eat when he began demanding macaroni for breakfast. The Cheerios appeared on the table along with pouts and protests. Dinners were even more difficult, as chicken was left out to dry and certain vegetables to remain nameless travelled a nomadic path across the plate.
When we asked our pediatrician for advice, she suggested that we offer Collin the food we have prepared and nothing else. If he refuses to eat, the plate is covered and stored in the refrigerator for the inevitable moment when Collin says, “I’m hungry.” For the most part, it works.

Image via Flickr, Vancouver Bites!

Then there are times like today, when we went to a Chinese restaurant after Mass and Collin asked for – you guessed it – macaroni and cheese. When we explained that they didn’t serve macaroni, he asked for tacos. But, when his shrimp fried rice arrived, Collin nearly cleaned his plate.
Collin’s desire for a twenty-four hour macaroni and cheese buffet isn’t much different than some of the requests we make of God. We want our lives to be perfect, comfortable and everything we want at all times. But, that’s not possible. It’s just not good for us.
We need variety in our lives to balance us and help us to grow. But, just as Collin resists salad, we often look at the rough times in our lives as being distasteful without benefit. God aims to nourish us through our struggle. However, we often grow angry with Him just as Collin does with us when we give him fish and broccoli instead of you-know-what.
In prayer, our job isn’t to ask for an endless supply of whatever our version of macaroni is. Instead, we should be thankful for the multi-faceted buffet God lays before us. He nourishes us even when we feel we are starving. We simply must appear at His table. And don’t worry. There will be just enough macaroni there to make you feel good.   

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.