Thursday, May 22, 2014

that people are like spice

I made a batch of biscuits recently. The name was something like 'apple spice biscuits'. Their ingredients included apple puree, ground cloves, cinnamon.... and ginger! As soon as I saw the last ingredient I predicted what would happen. After adding it to the batter, the result might as well have been gingerbread. We couldn't tell the difference. Once it was mixed in, we could no longer single out the flavour of cloves, cinnamon or apple, but we could definitely taste the ginger.

It was the last thing I added. Before its addition, I could taste and smell those other ingredients. They are just as nice as ginger, if not even nicer. I'm a cinnamon fan and also love the smell and taste of cloves. They are really yummy. But as I held the heaped spoon of ginger over the bowl ready to sprinkle, I thought, "That's it guys, get ready to be overpowered."

It's funny how people are pretty much the same as spices and condiments. We all know the ginger (and garlic) people. They are those wonderful, gregarious talkers who we rely on to fill awkward silences at group gatherings. The extroverts, the sanguines and cholerics. The sort who take over the running of meetings. "If John is in charge, it doesn't matter who else is on the committee. He's got such a strong personality, we know how it's going to end. It'd be wise to try to get him on side."

But just as ginger isn't 'better' than the other spices, neither is one type of person better than another. Although we all know this in our heads, it took me a while to get it into my heart. "Only sunny-natured, gregarious people need apply" the job advertisements cried out. My whole life used to feel like a bit of a reproach. On the way home from school, I listened to countless lectures from my mother, who used to try to coach me on how I should behave. "You need to speak up more. People think you're unfriendly when you stay too quiet. If you change the way you behave, they won't pick on you anymore."

The people who wrote the apple spice biscuit recipe must have thought the cinnamon and cloves added something to the recipe and complimented the ginger in some way. The might have given the overall result some edge, so that it's more than just a stodgy biscuit. That's what people of more low-key personalities can do for our ginger friends. It's been great, over recent years, to see the rise of the introvert movement. If you are subtle cinnamon, you can't be ginger, and nor should you want to be. The phlegmatic and melancholic folk, the quiet contemplative, deeply thoughtful ones have their own place in the world.

I only wish it had started while I was still in my teens. It seemed to begin with the publication of the book, "The Introvert Advantage" by Marti Olsen Laney in 2002, which I have on my shelf. Sometimes it takes something new like that for a movement to snowball. It's made me chuckle to see extroverts begin to take notice and complain that they are now being typecast as shallow, rowdy party-animals. I don't feel too sorry for them though, because they'll always have their cheer squads.

Whatever our personality, I think we need to take time to remember to take time to appreciate what we are, because when we don't, it's all too easy to slip into feeling inadequate, for whatever reason. 


  1. I agree, Paula. Apple spice biscuits could probably work out better without the poor ginger. But not fried rice! I don't like it if I haven't got any fresh ginger on hand when I'm making a batch.

    I think knowing who we are in Christ is the answer to some of the inadequacy issues we all battle. Somedays, I need to remember it's how He sees me that really matters. That then refocuses my own self-perception and how/where I fit.

    Blessings for a great weekend. :)

    1. Hi Dotti,
      Plenty of ginger is good sometimes, and your fried rice sounds like one of those times :) I've been drinking 3Ginger tea lately, which I've enjoyed. I agree with your thoughts here. It's something we have to remind ourselves often.

  2. Totally agree Paula. It's a balance really I think - we need each other whether introvert or extrovert, and what Dorothy has said about knowing who we are in Christ is so important. It doesn't matter what others think about us it is how He sees us that we should focus on.

    I once heard someone say that if we were all introverts nobody would say anything and conversely, if we were all extroverts nobody would be able to get a word in and we would all be talking over each other.

    Variety is the spice of life and the balance of flavours usually makes the mixture quite tasty. Interesting too!

    Great post!!

    1. Hi Lesley,
      That is so true. It's so easy to get sidetracked by the peripheral, especially in crowds. Here's to keeping our focus where it should be. I'm glad there are people in the middle of the scale too :)

  3. Hi Paula, your message reminded me of Paul in the New Testament where he uses the analogy of the body to describe the church community. I heard a speaker once who asked us how it felt to have a toothache. When that one tiny part of the body aches, the impact rips through the whole body. Each of us has a unique place in the world and who we are affects everyone who crosses our path. How crucial it is that we be faithful to the person God created us to be. Susanne Timpani

  4. P.S. I'm not anonymous; just haven't completed my google account yet! Susanne

  5. Hi Susanne,
    Yes, that's an apt analogy too, especially as I've been reading it recently, in my through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. And the analogy makes me think that with the recipe, the cinnamon etc are definitely doing their bit too and adding something we might miss if it was removed, even though the flavour doesn't stand out.
    Thanks :)


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