Last Thursday at our women's study we got into some lively discussion as we often do about marriage and family dynamics. Several women were making comments like this, I don't want to have an opinion in case it's the wrong one. I worry about pleasing the other person. Even something like my husband asking me where I want to eat I'll say I don't care.
I sat laughing and nodding, all the while thinking, What are these strange words pouring forth from the mouths of these fair maiden creatures? It seems a distant language from a faraway land.
Not having an opinion? I hardly know the meaning. I have an opinion about having an opinion.
But here's where I especially have an opinion. (And Matt equally shares it.)
I absolutely believe that palates are trained and tastes are acquired and conformable.
Recently we were starting to have an awful time with Asher developing very picky tastes. Basically only anything that was sweet, like fruits. Naturally. While fruits are good, vegetables and protein and a whole myriad of other things are too. After several days of spitting out almost everything that entered his mouth, I realized we were going to have to start from scratch. I acted as if he were 6 months old and I was introducing solids for the first time.
I mixed avocados with breastmilk to make it familiar and palatable. I smushed things up to a consistent consistency in case it was a texture thing. And we slowly but surely started our way up from the bottom again. And...
At this moment Asher eats almost everything we set in front of him. We feed the boys what we're eating so that means they're introduced to a wide variety of foods. No special meals because they don't like something. We often say to Micah, I'm sorry, buddy, you can eat your [fill-in-the-blank] or nothing but that means you're all done. We want you to be thankful for what you have, bud.
There are a few certain foods that I truly despise. The mere taste of them causes deep revulsion within. Sour cream is one of those foods. But there have been multiple times I've been offered a meal that someone else had cooked in which sour cream was a main ingredient. And I ate every last bite with nary a peep and I expressed deep thankfulness to the cook.
That tells me that palates can be trained and that I am not a slave to my preferences.
In my travels I've been served some very unappetizing meals with ingredients that I'd care not to explore more deeply. But here's a principle I learned from a ministry leader right before we left for Kenya that I've never forgotten all these years later. Jesus said in Luke 10:8, "Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you" (emphasis mine).
Jesus is sending out the disciples to different towns and he's giving them instructions. And of the instructions he gave them he considered this one important enough to include. Eat what's set before you. Simple. Don't complain. Don't ask for something different. Just eat what's before you.
We're not crazy hard about this. We know there will be certain foods our children truly don't like. But they don't get to eat something different just because they prefer something else. We want to encourage thankfulness and the act of choosing something, not because it's always easy or what you prefer, but because you will to. Choose to.