by Devi Abraham
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here ▸
On an ordinary weekend shopping trip in Melbourne, Australia, a set of beautiful orange bakeware stopped me in my tracks. I could already imagine lasagne bubbling inside. It was on sale, and I knew I wanted it. I went in and turned the pots over to check for quality, while my sensible brain asked discerning buyer questions: Orange, really? Are you sure you like Orange?
But I had to overcome another obstacle. I was 26-years-old. Single. Living with my parents. I shared a tiny bedroom with my 25-year-old sister. We were sleeping on bunk beds, and I could hear a voice saying, this isn’t the time to buy bakeware.
It’s only bakeware, what was the big deal? These basic dishes tempted me. Buy it in faith for the future family you can trust you will have! But the truth had nothing to do with a future family. The truth was so much more basic.
I wanted the dishes. I liked the dishes.
One of my goals that year had been to learn how to cook. I wanted to hear an onion crunch under my kitchen knife and feel a tomato yielding to the wooden spoon as it mixed with olive oil in a hot pan. I wanted to create a feast out of raw materials, food that nourished and sustained my life and the life of others.
The dishes were an invitation to a life I wanted and yet believed was out of reach. There was a small voice asking, can you believe a full life exists even if it looks different from how you thought it would?
I was not an unusual 26-year-old single, evangelical woman. I mapped my life out in distinct stages: young adulthood of work and service that was preparation for marriage, marriage, service in the church, parenthood, some vaguely impactful life in my 60s.
That was the vision.
If God was the sun around which I revolved, the axis on which I rotated was my relationship status. It defined completely what I could and could not do. Could I save money to buy a house on my own? No, that was something couples did. Could I decide to move somewhere to pursue a career opportunity? No, that would signal career being more important than family. Should I continue to serve in church? Yes, because I might meet someone that way.
The single life was a waiting room I delighted in inhabiting. It was a great room, decorated with the image of a future husband, supported by prayers for his life and mine. I did not believe I deserved to live in any room except this one. I built this room myself, but it was blessed by the Christian community I was in at the time. No one said it explicitly, but this is what happened in a church where the only women I saw leading were married women with children. Every well-meaning “so, are you seeing anyone?” question reinforced the underlying expectation that my most significant life goal was marriage.
I think that’s why I stopped and browsed when I saw the dishes.
I heard a desire bigger than the waiting room.
The framework I had to understand desire came from Psalm 37: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
I heard what people said: delight yourself in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord. Focus on the command part, I thought, delighting in and obeying God! That’s all you have to do. If I could just trust enough, the fulfilment I desired would be on the other side.
What I didn’t do was examine the phrase desires of your heart.
When I started to untangle my desires, I spotted how church culture shaped my desires. I wanted a husband and a family in part because it was the extent of my imagination.
Would you believe me if I told you that orange bakeware was a pathway to an enlarged idea for my life?
My desire for bakeware wasn’t just about the dishes. What lay beneath was a deep desire for food and beauty, feeding and being fed, cultivating community. This was a vision rooted deeply in a world where I could recognize my life, the way God formed it. It was a deeper place.
These were beautiful, God-given desires, too, and just as Psalm 37 promised, at every turn God granted them. He was granting them in that moment while I was window shopping at 26 and saw a deep-dish casserole pan. God knew I saw deep dish lasagne and shepherd’s pie and a French-toast casserole with blueberry compote, and God said, live your life.
I bought the deep-dish casserole, the baking pan, and the two smaller pots. It wasn’t an investment in the future, it was a gift to the woman I was that day. That day I told her, God made you this way, and it is good. Go and live.
Devi Abraham is a writer, thinker, and podcaster. She co-hosts Where Do We Go From Here? a podcast that untangles sexual ethics for a new generation of Christians. Devi lives and writes with her family on the land of the Wurundjeri People of Kulin Nations in Melbourne, Australia. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.