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by Kayte McCoy

Are there any tofu lovers out there? We are not tofu eaters at our house. I have tried tofu a few times and if it is part of a good recipe, I actually do not mind it at all, but my husband is completely uninterested. So, to those who do love tofu, I want to be clear that I have nothing against tofu as a food. However, I do not want to BE tofu.

Tofu can be scrumptious or disgusting, depending on the other ingredients in the dish. Tofu acquires the flavor of whatever is mixed with it.

I started using tofu to describe people when my husband and I were preparing for a youth conference trip. We were talking about which teenagers should be in hotel rooms together. When I said, “That girl is tofu,” what I meant was that girl is easily influenced by the people in her company. If she were rooming with other kids who were behaving, then she would behave, but if put in with kids who were not behaving, she would do as they did.

I am not using “tofu” in a derogatory manner. Most teenagers are tofu. In fact, as a teenager I was also tofu. Even as an adult, I can still be tofu. Alternatively, when a teenager is not tofu, one whom you trust to do right when the people they are with are not doing right, it is really refreshing.

Lately, I have been thinking of my spirit, or attitude. Is my spirit “tofu?” Does it take on the flavor of whatever is thrown into it?

When the weather is warm and sunny, generally everyone you meet all day is in a great mood. I think that is especially true in the climate where I live in Upstate New York, where the bleakness and monotony of gray, frigid days wears on us, and where we begin to crave spring like an Atkins dieter fantasizing about a flaky, buttery, dinner roll. We can call it a vitamin D deficiency, but it almost seems like people wake up in the morning, check on the weather report and decide what kind of mood they will be in based on what the weather man predicts.

We are acting like tofu! When sunny weather is mixed into our day, we will be sunny and cheerful. When there is rain and clouds, we will mimic the weather with our spirits.

More than being a mirror of the weather report, I do not want to be tofu when it comes to the circumstances and events of my life. Life has tough stuff in it. It rains on the just and the unjust alike, as the book of Job tells us; yet that same Bible tells us to, “Rejoice evermore!” The two scenarios can sometimes contradict one another in our minds and certainly in our actions. It is because we are being like tofu. We are taking on the flavor of the other ingredients of our lives.

I do not want to be tofu. I want to be chocolate.

One of the better tofu dishes I have tried was tofu pudding. It tasted like chocolate pudding! I did not taste tofu at all. The only ingredient I could distinguish was beautiful, delicious chocolate. It overwhelmed every other contributor in that pudding.

I want to be like chocolate. I want to decide the flavor of my day. I want to decide what kind of disposition I will have. The news should not dictate that today will be a bad day because the world is full of bad things. The actions of others should not influence my spirit.

It seems that women in particular are more susceptible to allowing outside influences to determine their spirits. I dislike over-generalizing the genders. Surely men and women are different and some obvious trends do exist, but I understand that individuality within the sexes vary. Moody, sensitive men do exist (is there anything on earth less attractive than a moody man?); and rumor has it that a good female driver does exist, though it is, admittedly, not me. There are a few marred mailboxes to testify to that. The fact is that most scented candles are bought by women, and at my house, it is always the females reaching to turn on the happy music. This tells me that women are more inclined to rely on outside stimuli to affect them in a positive way.

It seems almost ironic that as women, we set the tone and atmosphere of our homes; yet, we are the most dependent and susceptible to our own environment to shape our own personal temperament.

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” – Proverbs 27:15

I used to find humor in the verses about a contentious or brawling woman. Nowadays, it is a little too close to home for laughing!

 “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

I want to be chocolate. I want to choose to let the Bible, along with life’s blessings and joys, dominate my frame of mind. Not only that, but maybe I could flavor the world around me with a little more chocolate too! Most people are tofu, letting the circumstances around them govern their mood. One traffic jam can ruin a person’s whole day; but amazingly, one friendly clerk at the post office can brighten a day. Does it not seem to be the responsibility of a Christian to be the chocolate that flavors its surroundings, and not the tofu that soaks in whatever is around?

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. – Matthew 5:13

When we act like chocolate instead of tofu, we can actually obey I Thessalonians 5:16 and “Rejoice evermore.”  How is it that some people can sing songs of praise by the lifeless body of their loved one? They have decided to be like chocolate. How in the world can a cancer patient have a smile on his face? He has decided to be like chocolate. How can one mother with a house full of rambunctious kids be cheerful while another is barely surviving? How can some people, with the same cares and trials that we all face, possess great joy in a dark world? They have decided to be like chocolate.

These people who have decided to be like chocolate carry their own joy with them and share it with others.

Do we flavor our own lives, or let others do it for us?

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” – I John 4:4

We must decide today to be like CHOCOLATE!

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