pumpkin soup mindset

Have you ever noticed how so many cafes have Pumpkin Soup on the menu? Now we’re in official soup season we might see some specials of a variety of different soups but Pumpkin Soup is on the printed, year round menu. 

In my expert, soup-eating-cafe-crawling opinion there are three main reasons this is so. 

1. It’s easy. 

Like, super easy! At its most basic – you chop up some pumpkin, maybe add an onion, boil it to death in some chicken stock, blend it up and there you go. A dash of cream, a sprinkle of chives and some crusty bread on the side and it’s cafe ready. 

2. It’s safe. 

For the non-adventurous diner, Pumpkin Soup is a low risk order. “Hmm Pumpkin Soup, I wonder what that might be?” It’s soup, made from pumpkins. You know what you’re gonna get. 

3. It’s available. 

A nice big pot of soup, frozen into individual serves is perfect for a quick buzz in the mickey-groover (aka microwave) ready to serve on demand. 

Now, I’ve had my share of Pumpkin Soups when working in cafes and looking for a simple, low cost lunch option to fuel my writing. But every time I do, the above three thoughts come to mind. Because 1. I don’t like ordering (or paying for) things I know I could make at home, 2. I enjoy dining out for stretching my culinary palette – give me some Morrocan spices, give me an ingredient I don’t recognise that makes me feel like I’m being a little daring to order it. And 3. I want to see my lunch served from that big steaming pot of yumminess or see a pile of vegetable scraps being scraped into a bin that make me think there may still be some nutrients active in my food. 

In context to these thoughts – I wonder if cafes aren’t missing the opportunity to show themselves as more creative, current or keen to bring us on something of a culinary journey each time they choose Pumpkin Soup over the myriad of other winter warmers that might be available? A Pumpkin Soup mindset might be easy, familiar, safe and practical – but it’s hardly going to set the cafe world alight or bring any great education or change to the palettes of cafe crawlers. 

Which made me wonder, where else does the Pumpkin Soup mindset manifest itself? The answer that first came to mind was, “pretty much everywhere” but the thought that quickly followed (associated with feelings of frustration and discomfort) was “in church life; in our faith”. 

The Pumpkin Soup mindset is the enemy of relationships, church cultures, faith walks, communities and families that we desire to be dynamic, vibrant, thriving and growing. 

How often are we tempted to make choices based on what is easy, safe and available when none of those things is likely to bring about best outcomes? Where in the call to be a disciple or make disciples was easy, safe and available part of the deal? I’m not talking complicated, unsafe and exceptionally difficult just for the sake of it, but when we’re looking to grow in our personal faith or to encourage our faith communities to greater obedience, greater acts of love and service, greater witness – the Pumpkin Soup mindset is just not going to cut it. 

Next time you’re in a planning meeting, chatting over a problem with a friend, making a big decision, looking to God for guidance on an issue, choosing a course of action, or seeking to grow in your faith, reject the Pumpkin Soup mindset. Be ready to explore a variety of flavours, ingredients or cuisines – be open to the challenge, the unknown, the extra effort and the faith-required options that God might call you through to His best. 

it’s not just you

I do some really random things. Too many to list, but here’s an example. 

When I’m pouring a drink, filling a pot with water, or even emptying a new bag of rice into the Tupperware I count. “Pouring ..1, 2, 3, 4 … done.” I don’t have a reason for counting. I do nothing with the number I reach, I just count. 

I don’t know why. 

One day I was talking with my Dad and he just happened to mention that he did exactly the same thing!! We were both incredulous! “You too? I was sure I was the only one!”

We proceeded to share all the different places and times we do this and laughed as we tried to work out together why! (No logical conclusion was reached.)

The power of the “you too?” moment is awesome. In funny, random things like this example it creates a fun and friendly link between two people (I often stop mid-counting now to think “ha, Dad would do this too”). In more weighty or life-impacting issues the power of that is exponentially greater. 

The divorcee, the abuse victim, the fired worker, the tired parents of toddlers, the grieving spouse, the carer for an elderly relative, the gender-excluded, the shift worker, the insecure or intimidated, the abandoned child, the heart-broken, the lonely person, the socially excluded, or the financially challenged often experience exacerbated levels of grief or struggle because of the perception that they are the only one feeling or experiencing their particular circumstances. When in reality, there’s unlikely to be many experiences known to humankind that aren’t also encountered by others – sometimes many others …sometimes even most. 

It’s probably not just you. 

The issue with this is that on top of the struggle of whatever it is we’re facing we add an often unnecessary sense of isolation that brings with it an increased emotional cost to process our way through to wellbeing. The language of this looks something like “everyone else is …”, “no one else has to…”, “I’m the only one who …”It’s harder for me because…” or “it’s easier for them because …” Sound familiar?

So what can we do?

  • Share your experience. Not only might you find someone else who can relate but you might be that person to another. The more I share of my own life and my own challenges the more “you too?” connections I make. For example, EVERY time I’ve mentioned my own experience of miscarriage I’ve found a “you too?” person in the group. 
  • Save your emotional energy for the real stuff without adding (most probably untrue) emotional baggage to your journey. When you’re struggling through a challenge or experiencing a difficulty – devote your heart energy to finding a way to cope and thrive. Don’t add the burden of self-imposed aloneness or isolation to the list of things you’re carrying. 
  • Change your language. I am 150% more prone to exaggeration than the average person. 😉 But in emotionally intense situations we are easily drawn to using exaggeration and over-statement to try and garner the depth of sympathy and response our hearts are looking for. “Never”, “always”, “everyone” and “no one” are rarely accurate statements (like, really, have you polled everyone?!). Yeah. Stop that. 
  • Check your self-talk. The things we say out loud are at least able to be challenged by more emotionally sober and objective people. What you say to yourself is incredibly powerful and largely unknown to those around you. Take responsibility for your thought life and the kinds of things you accept about yourself from yourself. 
  • Acknowledge the equation. While each of our circumstances may not be unique in and of themselves, the combination of them in our own lives – plus our personality – plus our life stage – plus our faith – plus our family dynamic – plus our place in the situation (etc etc) -combine to determine its impact on us and our response to it. The “me too” response ought to bring connection not a sense of being dismissed.