Things that are hard to swallow can be: cod liver oil, colonoscopy prep, instant mashed potatoes, over-ripe bananas, and the list goes on. We each have that certain something that sticks in our throats!

If I listed “sheep’s eyeball,” not only would you not relate, but you’d probably re-read this sentence to make sure you read it correctly!

(I’m the one sticking my head out to look at the camera in the above picture). It was many, many, many decades ago in the early 1960’s. My parents were reconnecting with the landlord who had rented them a home in Taibi, Jordan after they left Palestine. Hospitality reigns supreme in the Middle East and we were being treated as honored guests, all seven of us. Therefore, a whole sheep had been slaughtered to prepare mansef, the national dish of Jordan.

Presentation is key with mansef!

As we rested on the low, brightly colored setees around the adobe-like room, a huge tray of steaming amber-colored rice heaped with succulent pieces of lamb was presented on the floor in front of us. Nestled on top of it all, a lamb’s head sat grinning at me! My six year old self fixated on it while our host droned on and on with typical Arabic platitudes about my father. I was barely paying attention until suddenly, I heard my dad say my name. I looked up just in time to see our host expertly pop out one of the sheep’s eyeballs, gently hold it between his thumb and finger tips, and guide the glistening orb towards its target, my mouth! I held my head still, vaulted my lips shut, and slid my eyes questioningly towards my mom. She answered with that ubiquitous arched eyebrow and silent pursed lips that all moms seems to have!

I obeyed, closed my eyes, opened my mouth, and received the proferred morsel, a symbol of honoring our family by honoring the youngest child. To this day, I feel it sliding down my throat as I fought off my gag reflex. Our host was thrilled, his wife clapped her hands, my mom smiled gratefully towards me, and my sisters sighed with relief that they hadn’t been chosen!

Occasionally in life, we have to swallow something disasteful for the sake of others. It won’t hurt us. It’s just hard to swallow.

Jesus didn’t use a swallowing metaphor to explain this concept, but he did say to turn the other cheek.

What have you had to swallow?

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 8: 29-31

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