I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve failed at making it. Sometimes my meringue has fully qualified as a Pinterest fail. Seriously. It’s looked like everything from raw egg yolks to day-old dishwater. That’s why for years—lots of years—I’ve pretended that Cool Whip was just as good. I’ve done puddings and pies with it. I’ve mixed it with powdered sugar and drizzled it with caramel. I’ve layered it with Eagle Brand milk and I’ve mixed Oreos with it. I’ve been Cool Whip crazy because I secretly wanted to forget that meringue was a thing. Even the word started to sound sort of like an omen of failure, rhyming with “slang” and “pang” and “fang” and “harangue”…all words that call to mind situations I’d rather avoid. So, I avoided meringue. Every time I was tempted to try to make that chocolate pie, I found a decadent way around it-usually brownies. Mix, bake, cut—you’re done. Every time that lemon meringue called my name, I remembered those lemon chess bars and pretended they would be just as good. But really, no one can even pretend that Jello and Cool Whip and vanilla wafers are really as good as the real banana pudding.
It was my Dad that prompted me to venture into the world of standing at the counter whipping egg yolks till my wrists were in full carpal tunnel mode and adding cream of tarter and sugar ever so slowly while I imagined over and over that the liquid dripping from that beater was turning into what the recipe described as “peaks”. I’d do almost anything for Dad and he can get excited about banana pudding.
I’ll go ahead and say (and I’m really trying not to brag here) that, after what seemed an eternity tonight, my meringue was perfect. Perfect. It was perfectly white, perfectly light, perfectly peaked, and, when I put it in the oven for five minutes at 350 degrees, it came out perfectly golden toasted. Okay, I’m bragging.
But let me tell you the reasons it was perfect:
- I found a recipe where the chef really went into detail about each step of the banana pudding and there were about a dozen pictures of what he was doing all along the way. I found it here: http://www.tasteofsouthern.com/southern-banana-pudding-recipe/
- This chef kept on saying “You can do this.” At every juncture where people mess up meringue, he pointed out the pitfall to avoid, as in “This is where you might over-beat and your peaks will fall. Be patient. You can do this.”
- I made up my mind that I was just about as smart as all the other women who can make meringue and, if I really applied myself, surely I could do it, too.
- I decided not to think about all those other times the meringue had not worked out.
As I stood there stirring, I thought about how conquering meringue was a little like rising to other challenges, even spiritual ones. I need directions. I need patient people who already know what they are doing to model the tough parts of Christian living for me. I need their reassurance and encouragement. I need them to show me what successful Christianity looks like. I need a picture.
I need all those Biblical examples of faith. I need to look at ordinary people who did extraordinary things by faith. I need those people who “died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off”. I need that great cloud of witnesses. I need Hebrews 11. If they could do it, surely I can, too. After all, they were serving in faith before the empty tomb. I have a great advantage.
And, like Paul, I need to “forget the things that are behind me and press toward the mark of the high calling” (Phil. 3:14). I need to forget all the “fails” and focus on the future. I need to keep heaven firmly in my distance vision.
Surely, by His grace, I can do this. And it will make my Father happy.