The Parable of the Ketchup

“Mommy, do girls eat ketchup?” my then three-year-old daughter asked.

To say her question caught me by surprise would be an understatement.

“Why, yes, honey, girls eat ketchup.”

“Then why don’t we?”

Good question. Valid question. You see, I do not like ketchup. I do not like it on my sandwiches; I do not like it to dip my french fries in. I do not particularly like it baked on top of meatloaf, although I can tolerate it providing it’s not too much. If it is, I will scrape off as much of it as I can because, let’s face it, meatloaf is just too good to pass up. But that’s beside the point.

My daughter’s question took me by surprise because it never occurred to me that, for the better part of three years, she had sat at Burger King or McDonald’s or Wendy’s and watched her brothers and dad dip their french fries in ketchup, but had never once done so herself because her mom didn’t. And my heart sank.

It sank even further after her celebrated first dip of a french fry into the ketchup resulted in a “yum-yum” moment.

My thoughts ran wild.

“How long had she been wondering why boys could eat ketchup and not girls?”

“How many times had she sat there longing to taste the ketchup, but too timid to ask?”

To think I had unknowingly deprived her of something she obviously liked and enjoyed pained me. “Are there other things I’m unwittingly depriving her of?”

It was then I realized, perhaps for the first time, just how much my daughter was watching me — even down to my eating habits. If she was so observant to notice I did not dip my french fries in ketchup when everyone else at the table did, what other things had she noticed — large or small? Had she noticed my speech? Had she noticed my choice of friends? Had she noticed my work ethic? Had she noticed my habit of Bible study and prayer?

In thinking back on this video memory from 20+ years ago, I now have other questions facing me.

Am I observing my Heavenly Father as closely as my daughter was observing me? Am I trying to mimic His life in order to be a reflection of Him?

Just as my daughter did not understand the ketchup on the table before her was something available to her, I wonder what blessings I’m leaving on the table because of wrong assumptions or misunderstandings. What blessings am I missing out on because I mistakenly believe the blessings I see in the lives of others are not available to me? What hopes and dreams are going unfulfilled because I mistakenly assume they’re for others, not me?

So, today I promised myself I will no longer continue to sit back and “stare at the ketchup” I see others partaking of. I will hold unswervingly to the hope I profess, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). I will be an active participant by boldly approaching God’s throne of grace where I have already received one blessing after another (John 1:16).

I will acknowledge God’s blessings of the past.

I will rejoice in God’s blessings in the present.

I will anxiously await God’s blessings in the future.

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” (Psalm 71:14)

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