A family tradition that goes all the way back to my grandfather is catfish stew. I remember staying at his over Christmas break, and going to the local fish market to pick up some catfish. To make the stew is very simple. All you need is some catfish, onions strong enough to make a sailor cry, potatoes, salt, pepper, and a little bit of butter. Put it all together at lunch time, let it simmer until dinner. Another part of the tradition is the four o’clock sample. My grandfather told me the point of the sample was to make sure the stew was good enough to eat for dinner. When I think sample, I think of the guy at Sam’s Club giving a tiny portion in order to make me want more of a product. My grandfather would break out the dinner bowls, fill them up, then we would consume the stew.
I remember the first time I made catfish stew when I moved up to Kentucky. I was so proud of my stew, and I wanted to show the world. I posted some pictures up on Facebook. I even showed the process from start to finish. The response was not what I had expected. I was looking forward to the traditional comments such as:
- Man, I wish I was eating at your house tonight.
- Wow, that looks awesome.
- A perfect meal for a cold day.
Instead the response I received was:
- That looks gross.
- Who would want to eat that!
- That looks like fish vomit.
I have worked hard to make sure that my catfish stew was delicious, and I was looking forward to positive comments and musings of jealousy. I was a little disappointed, but my wife and I enjoyed the stew anyways (since everyone was grossed out, it only meant more for us).
How often do we work hard on something, and come to find out it was approved of or appreciated? I remember a few times being observed last year by my principal and receiving negative ratings for something I thought was awesome. It hurt, but I took her feedback, and I worked to demonstrate my abilities. I remember working for hours on this portfolio for my lateral entry program last year, only to be told it wasn’t good enough. So I took the feedback, fixed it, and submitted a better.
When someone downgrades something we have worked hard on; we can choose to do one or two things. We can do nothing, and say that person does not understand us. This usual doesn’t do anything to make it better. We can choose to take what has been said, and try again. There are times when people will not appreciate you, and you might have to move on. I remember I was working for this bank once, and it was clear I wasn’t wanted. I ended up looking for another job. It worked out for the best for everybody. We have to let God decide if it is a closed door, or a door we just need to push a little harder on.
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith. – Galatians 6:10