Sometimes you just need to eat the cookies.
Like these ones that were delivered to our front door by a woman who identified herself as a member of a nearby church. She and the gaggle of youth group girls who accompanied her were out canvassing the neighborhood, inviting people to a gathering at their church.
My husband answered the door, had a short friendly conversation with the group and turned to bring the cookies inside.
My daughter of course had been on his heels the whole time because there’s not much in this house that creates more excitement than the sound of the doorbell dinging. And as soon as her eyes caught sight of those cookies, her mouth began to water. “They just look so good,” she said and informed me that she needed to eat one.
I immediately said “no,” and explained that we don’t eat cookies from strangers. Her eyelids squeezed shut as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
I felt bad, but how could I in good conscience let my kid eat a cookie that could potentially be toxic? I had no way of knowing if those cookies were safe to eat. For all I knew, they were baked with antifreeze, narcotics, or rat poison. And was it really a generous church group who had delivered them or members of some psychotic cult?
Since I hadn’t answered the door, I peeked out the window to get a better look at these people. They looked nice. Normal. I watched as they walked up and down my neighbors’ driveways, smiling and delivering their homemade treats. But I know that people who look nice and normal don’t always equate to people who are safe.
I watched them for a bit longer before breaking one of the cookies into quarters to examine it. I smelled it. I looked closely at it, inside and out. There were no pins or needles baked into it. It looked yummy and smelled delicious.
After my careful examination, I stood in the kitchen dumbfounded. I had just spent 20 minutes obsessing about the safety of a few cookies. Sure they could have been poisoned, but most likely they weren’t.
And I wondered how I got here. To this place where a simple act of kindness is immediately considered to be suspect. Where a batch of cookies from a church group consumes me with fear and anxiety. Where reality is clouded by skepticism as I overanalyze a good deed and the kindness of a stranger.
I mean, I guess I know how it happened. I catch a glimpse of the news most days. I am aware of how many evil people exist in our great nation. I see the attacks that take place daily in our society; the harm that is done to children and adults alike. Everything from children being poisoned at daycare to poisoned soft drinks in the drive-thru to the violence that pervades every part of the country.
But this short interaction was not an attack on my household, my children. It was nothing more than a kind gesture from a group of people who simply wanted to share some sweets and a little bit of Jesus with their neighbors.
And with that realization, I gave in, and we ate the cookies. And guess what? Tragedy did not befall us. My daughter instead went to bed with a dusting of cookie crumbs on her smiling face, the innocence of an act of kindness recognized. I’m glad I gave in, not only to appease my daughter’s sweet tooth but to teach her gratitude and appreciation for those who do something nice for her. And how can I do that when I treat kindness like a crime?
I guess sometimes you just need to eat the cookies in order to see things as they really are. It’s easy to miss the good things that life offers when fear and skepticism are so prevalent. But kindness from others is almost always a gift, and only when the gift is accepted can it be appreciated.
I wonder what would happen if I worried a little less, and acknowledged simple acts of kindness a little more. Perhaps life would be made just a little bit sweeter.