When my brother Bobby and I were little kids, one of the great treats of summer was a journey to a neighboring town where my dad would buy each of us a hand-dipped ice cream cone. During the drive home, my mom would turn around from the front seat and point out drips that we back-seat-riders needed to lick up quick.
I, the ever-eager pleaser, would anxiously eat my ice cream as quickly as possible, barely taking a breath between licks. Bobby, on the other hand, came up with the more reasonable response. He would grin at Mom and bite off the bottom of his cone. There. No more worries. It didn’t matter how quickly he ate his ice cream, it would still be a mess.
I suppose you won’t be surprised when I admit I’ve grown up to be a perfectionist. I want everything in my life to be picture-perfect. It’s taken God a long time and lot of small — and some huge — reminders to convince me that picture-perfect isn’t always the wise choice. Sometimes life gets messy, and sometimes messy turns out to be wonderful.
A couple weeks ago my husband and I hosted a group of Harrison relatives. To celebrate the occasion, I decided to make one of my mom’s favorite desserts – an ice cream cake. Here’s my version of the recipe:
Ice Cream Cake
1 – baked angel food cake (the kind with the hole in the middle)
2 – pints of ice cream or sherbet – two different colors
1 – large carton of whipped topping
Soften the ice cream into spreadable consistency – not too goopy. Slice the cake horizontally into three equal pieces. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate and spread one flavor/color of ice cream evenly over the layer. Gently press the second layer over the ice cream and quickly spread the next flavor/color of ice cream over that. Add the top layer of cake. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and freeze it overnight.
The next morning, remove the plastic wrap and spread whipped topping over the cake. Wrap again and freeze at least 3 hours before serving. Garnish with ice cream topping or fruit. Slice and serve!
My angel food cake came out high and light. A perfectionist’s dream.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite so much luck with the ice cream layers. Things turned out a bit crooked, but I told myself I could even it all out the next day with whipped topping. Unfortunately, in the freezer that night, a pork loin exhibited some distinctly disorderly conduct. In the morning, I found it lying across the cake. Yikes!
No amount of squishing and prodding, no daring dollops of extra whipped topping could entirely mask the damage. My perfectionist heart wilted, but I served the cake anyway. What other choice did I have?
You know what? Regardless of form and imperfection, it still tasted great!
The whole episode was another of God’s reminders that perfection isn’t necessary to enjoy and appreciate life.
More importantly, I see that lop-sided cake as a spiritual reminder that no matter how imperfect I am, God’s love will always bring me to that place where I should be. As the apostle Paul shares in the New Testament book of Second Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 9: “And he [God] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” [King James Version]
Featured Photograph Copyright, 2016, Marcy Hammond. Used with permission. Cake photographs by Sue Harrison, 2016, Public Domain.