the pharisee and the penny

The secret of perfect pizza and Cinnabons is in the dough. And I’ve never been able to get the dough right from scratch. Far away from modern grocers and frozen bread dough, it took 12-year-old Jenny to find a solution to my predicament: Buy dough instead of doughnuts.

After healing from the slap to my pride caused by a child solving my problem, I headed to the local doughnut shop. In my limited Nepali, I asked for uncooked doughnuts. Confusion spread from his wide eyes to his gaping mouth: Do they eat dough? Use it as a prosthetic? Part of some kind of Christian puja?

“Just give me the dough!” I exclaimed.

There was more confusion on his face–How do I sell dough? By weight or handfuls? His head swung from the big pile of dough dotted with flies to the freshly cut doughnuts ready to be fried, and from there, to my face. Pointing to the ones already cut, I said, “Just give me 20 of those.”

Squishing them all into one sticky ball, he stuffed them in a plastic bag. Later, in my kitchen, the 20 uncooked doughnuts quickly converted into a tray of pizza and a dozen Cinnabons!! It was wonderful. Picking up the phone, I spread the word. Soon everyone on campus was at the doughnut shop!

But alas! The doughnut guy wised up. Overnight the price of 20 uncooked doughnuts more than doubled! Furious, I was ready for war. I had a strategy in place to put the doughnut guy out of business. He picked the wrong person to mess with! In my fuming rage of being gypped, there was no room for compassion for the simpleton making a living, no tolerance for haphazard economics, no appreciation for the dough I couldn’t make myself, no common sense that nudged me to realize it wasn’t worth the little saved.

“It’s the principle of the thing!” I said in my defense when my family pointed out that I was fuming and fussing over an increase of an American penny per doughnut.

In my rage, I forgot the primary purpose for being in Nepal—to show Christ through my words, my deed, and my relationships.

In my rage, I boycotted the doughnut shop for a whole year. In retrospect, it was more about the Pharisee than about the principle in me—focusing on law and not on love.

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