Lessons From a Burned Pan

     I know I’m weird, but when most of your time is spent at home, you learn stuff from things…at home!  Believe it or not, that includes burned pans.

     On December 16, I was melting chocolate chips and evaporated milk for a dessert I was taking to our Mulder Christmas party that night.  I didn’t watch it closely and I let it burn a little.  Well, after I used the chocolate (being careful not to scrape the bottom where it was burned) I put some water in the pan and let it soak overnight.  We left for Michigan early the next morning.  I did the dishes before we left, but that pan would not come clean!  I guess it burned a little more than I thought it did.  I scrubbed it and scrubbed it, but couldn’t get it to come off, so I finally just put some more water in it and left it on the counter while we were in Michigan for a week.

     After we got home from Michigan, I soaked and scrubbed that pan over and over until I finally got it all off around January 20!  I couldn’t believe it took that long…I was tempted to just throw away the pan when I saw how hard it was going to be, but it was one of my favorite pans and I didn’t want to give up on it without trying to get the burned spot off.  What gave me hope was seeing a little bit of the burned part come off every time I worked on it.  I’m sure if I had tried to get it all off at once, I would have gotten exhausted and just thrown it away, but I just worked on it a little bit every time I thought about it.  The burned stuff on the edges came off first, and the thicker part in the middle kept getting thinner every time I worked for a while.  Once in a while a big spot would come clean and I would really be encouraged.  It felt so good to see the last bit of burned on stuff come off and I could use my pan again!

     Maybe you can see where I’m going with all of this rambling about my burned pan.  As I worked, I thought about the similarities between my burned pan and my children.  At times they’ve gotten “burned” by my angry attitude and actions.  Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time, but as I look at my kids, sometimes I’ve seen that they have been damaged quite a bit by my angry outbursts.  Well, my kids are much more precious to me than a simple pan…so I need to make sure I work on getting rid of the burned on residue in their lives.

     What would have happened if I had kept using my pan with the burned area on the bottom?  Would it have automatically gotten clean?  Probably not.  If anything, the spot would be made worse, especially if I forgot to watch the pan again while something was cooking.  If we see the damage we are doing to our children, but continue “boiling over” and subjecting them to our anger, the “burned” areas of their personalities will not have a chance to heal and their lives will not be as effective or fulfilling.  We must find a way to get rid of the anger which boils over in our hearts, or at least learn to use self-control so that we don’t act in wrong ways when we are angry.  As God works in our hearts and changes us from the inside, we will gradually overflow with love instead of anger, and we will see healing in our children’s lives.  Take a look at just a sampling of verses from Proverbs which deal with anger and patience:


Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Proverbs 16:27 – A scoundrel plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.

Proverbs 17:1 – Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Proverbs 17:27 – A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.


     It’s obvious that when we are wise we will choose to act in patient, loving ways instead of lashing out in anger.  If you have been dealing with anger toward your children, you may feel like giving up.  I have felt that way before.  For some reason, I have been blessed with a personality that tends to be more than a little pessimistic.  When I go through an angry time and blow it with my kids, I often wish I could just start over with a new family – then I wouldn’t have to “clean up” the mess I’ve made.  I know, I know, that’s a terrible way to feel.  I know it’s unreasonable and selfish, but it’s the thought that crosses my mind at times.  Thankfully, sooner or later I come back to my senses and remember that God has blessed me with this family.  He wanted me to have these kids, so I’d better get busy and start gently removing the damage I’ve caused.

     When applied generously and consistently, love will eventually remove the burned on effects of our unrighteous anger.  It may take quite a while, just like my pan, and if we erupt in anger again we may undo the progress we’ve made, but if we sincerely work on our own heart and keep showing love to our children, I can almost promise that we’ll soon see a healthy, happy child in front of us again.

     Hey, do you smell something burning?


© Robyn Mulder 2001, therobynsnest.org

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