I love Julia Child. She would have turned 100 years old this week if she had lived. She passed away in 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday. (And she used real butter in her cooking!) People loved Julia because she made us laugh. She was known for living her life, and for teaching others to live their lives with great joy and intensity. Julia once said, “Everything in moderation . . .including moderation.” I loved her energy and her laughter. I also loved the way she would make mistakes while cooking. I am a mediocre cook – on my good days. I have to admit that I have always enjoyed the famous Dan Ackroyd skit about Julia Child. It isn’t something I would show to my Sunday School class, but it is “hurt me” funny. View it at your own risk – but not right before mealtime! I was surprised to learn she had served in the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, during World War II. She had tried to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps and the Navy Waves, but was turned down by both because she was 6’2″ tall. So she volunteered for the OSS and played a key role in the communication of top secret documents. She met her husband Paul while there and they were married 48 years, until his death in 1994. Julia once said, “We had a happy marriage because we were together all the time. We were friends as well as husband and wife. We just had a good time. Julia and Paul didn’t have any children – which is why she could say “we just had a good time!” (Just teasing Ryan and Craig!) Kind of. So why did I decide to write a post about Julia? Because I loved the way she lived her life, but sadly, I’m afraid she didn’t live it as fully as she thought she did. I’ll let her tell us why . . . in her own words. Quotes from Julia Child:
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Julia Child loved cooking because she loved food. She also said, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” What is that “something” that you are passionate about? I saw an ad for a television show that was going to report on “people’s obsessions.” The ad showed a woman with a closet full of shoes. What is the difference between a passion and an obsession? Passion is something that motivates. Obsession is something that controls. I am passionate about my family, my friends, and my ministry. Over all of that is my personal obsession – Jesus. I want him to be in control!
“The waiters carried themselves with a quiet joy, as if their entire mission in life was to make their customers feel comfortable and well tended.” I wish the world saw Christians the way that Julia Child saw those waiters. Scripture tells us to live with a quiet joy, and to go and make disciples. How sad if waiters succeed at their jobs, and God’s children do not.
“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” One of the reasons Julia Child was popular is because when she cooked, she threw her entire self into the project. If she made a mistake, she just learned from it, made the necessary changes and kept going. She didn’t expect perfection, just that passion. She once said, “This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” If I were to apply her philosophy to Christianity I would say something like, “Learn how to share your faith – try living it out in all circumstances, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all live with joy!”
People were drawn to Julia Child because of the way she lived her life, with passion. And she had an impact on the people around her. But her focus was life on earth, and that was her only focus. Sadly, Julia also said, “I don’t believe in heaven. I think when we die we just go back to the great ball of energy that makes up the universe.” That quote is from a June 2000 issue of Esquire magazine. Julia died in 2004. I hope someone helped her believe in heaven, and taught her how to get there. I hope she was drawn to that person because of the passion she saw in him or her – for the Lord.
I think there are things to be learned from people like Julia Child. She loved French food and good restaurants and cooking great meals. Maybe someone told her about the banquet in heaven! Maybe, there was someone with a passionate witness that helped Julia understand how to get to that banquet. I would love to look across that heavenly table and hear her laugh and say, “Bon appetit!”