Jesus Thinks Your Invisible Potato Salad Needs More Salt

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My best friend and I spent an entire day seated on a blanket spread in my living room, announcing we invented a fun new game called “invisible picnic”.

It was boring. Invisible fried chicken legs were tasty for .3 seconds.

It was stressful. Every time my mother was near, we felt the need to ramp up our pathetic pretending. “Mmmm, pass the watermelon!” we shrieked through tight smiles.

It was futile. Eventually, my friend had to go home and the blanket had to be pulled off the yellow carpet.

Earlier, we were being silly and careless when we knocked a large potted plant off a table. It hit the floor and dumped freshly watered dirt in a messy mound. We frantically scooped most of it back into the pot. I felt nauseated when I realized the dark, wet dirt left a large stain. I raked at it with my fingers. I ran to get a wet towel and tried blotting, but I’m sure I only made it worse by re-wetting the drying dirt and pressing it down further into the fibers.

My mom couldn’t see it! She would probably make my friend go home. She’d yell with her bottom jaw jutted forward. I hated that. Why ruin a good day with honesty and contrition? The stain needed to be hidden. Using a blanket was an obvious choice, but how to explain? That’s where one of us brilliantly thought “invisible picnic” and the other agreed.

That day was completely burned away by our ruse. Nobody has ever been so dedicated to faux outdoor dining as we were. As afternoon grew into evening, the light in the living room darkened. She had to go home, four doors up the street to a mom with unspoiled carpet. Luckily, the diminishing light helped to mask the blotch and the rest of that day proceeded with no drama. It was over. We succeeded in fooling my mom.

It took days for her to notice because she usually cruised by the living room. Her path commonly took her from bedrooms to kitchen and back again. The living room was a place nobody actually lived. We did that in the family room, where the TV was enthroned. When I heard her yell, “What happened here!?” there was enough distance I could plausibly shrug my shoulders and express deep concern. I had two younger siblings. It was probably one of them.

I persist on unfurling blankets over my sin or, lately, my sorrow. Unlike my mom, Jesus isn’t thrown off by well-placed blankets and invisible potato salad. For added cover, I sit on the blankets and pretend I’m having a wonderful time. This chicken is perfectly fried. This watermelon is the sweetest seedless I’ve ever devoured. This lemonade is cool and tart. My belly, which should burst with such a spread, remains predictably empty. 


As I’ve grown, these ruses are less common as I’ve been seated at real feasts by Jesus himself. There’s no competition between what I conjure on my own and the reality of his forgiveness and my redemption. He tells me to get off the floor. He peels back the blanket. We consider what’s underneath and he cleans whatever we find.

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