This article was written by Tim and originally was published in Holt Magazine. It was commissioned through the general editor Joffre Swait and printed digitally June of 2018.
When my wife and I were first married we did what every couple does. We went to the store and filled our house with toiletries, decorations, and kitchen supplies. One of the things we bought was a set of pots and pans. In order to save money we bought a fairy inexpensive set, but within a year and a half there were dents and chips on nearly every piece.
I called my grandmother to ask her how long she had had her pot and pan set. Considering that I had already spent nearly $75 I was unhappy with the thought that I would have to purchase these items every few years. She laughed and told me that her pots and pans were nearly 35 old at the time! I realized then that sometimes it pays to pay for quality.
We purchased our first piece of cast iron shortly after that conversation. Just the one piece. I knew this was something that would last. I distinctly remember discovering that it made a great hamburger. Then I began challenging people I knew to make a better pancake than mine in something other than a piece of cast iron.
So we had that one cast iron pan. We took good care of it, used it on occasion, and life sped by. A decade later I would be reintroduced to cast iron and become a collector. Right now I have about 25 pieces and use almost all of them regularly. I’ve even joined an online cast iron cooking club I became aware of through my diligent and enthusiastic study.
Cast iron cooking has been part of North American heritage for well over a century. Many of the early pioneers would have had a cast iron Dutch oven pot on their wagons. Later, companies started mass producing them for home use. In 1865 the famous Griswold Manufacturing Company was founded in Erie, PA. Their products continue to be some of the most collectible pans today. My favorite pan, which is used daily in our home, is a Griswold #8 704H. It’s a basic skillet, but it cooks like a champ. It was at my buddy’s scrap yard, and someone decided that it had run its life cycle. Little did that person know that they had thrown out a $100 collector’s piece that I was able to restore to its original glory.
Recently my wife and I decided to start giving cast iron as wedding gifts. We are sharing one of our passions in life with our newly wed friends and showing how cast iron and marriage are related. We enjoy writing about it in their cards, and hope that the pan will not just be a functional piece of cookware, but a reminder of how to maintain a marriage.
Many are unaware that cast iron can be restored even after years and decades of neglect. Often I’ll find pans at yard sales or on the curb which appear rusted beyond repair. Some of these just need some steel wool and a good measure of elbow grease. Other pans require a more technological approach. I have built my own electrolysis tank which uses electricity flowing through water to remove layers of rust. (Don’t try this at home without consulting professional assistance!)
Marriage is like cast iron. People look at a particular marriage and believe that it’s rusty, beat up, beyond repair, and needs to be discarded. It seems easy to toss it out and start fresh with something new, as if no consequences would follow. But often, like a vintage piece of cast iron, if we are willing to put the work into it, sometimes a marriage can be restored to its former glory.
The majority of the pans I have collected as throwaways now look brand new off the shelf. That’s not because they are new, but because of the work that I have put into them. If we have had days, months, or even years of bitterness, harsh words, or neglect in our marriage, it just means that it is going to take more time to get the rust off, scour the surface, and bring it back to life. There are marriages which once seemed worthless that are now joyful reflections of the day they said, “I do.”
Cast iron can be stripped, sanded, ground with a wire brush, and eventually re-seasoned. Marriages in need of repair require forgiveness, confession, and conversation in order to strip away the rust. They can be re-seasoned with things such as kinds words, gifts, acts of kindness, and a prioritizing of the relationship.
Legacy is another thing to think about when comparing cast iron and marriage. One of my favorite reasons to collect cast iron is the history behind it. I have pans that could have been used by a ranch cook off the back of chuck wagon more than 100 years ago, or that could have been used by a mother who fought to put scraps on the table during the Great Depression.
I hope that my children will fall in love with collecting cast iron as well for our own familial history. Maybe one day my grandchildren will inherit my vintage bundt pan and think of me making my famous lemon cake. Perhaps they will use my drop biscuit pan and think of the joy it brought my wife as I would make biscuits and sausage gravy from scratch on many Saturday mornings. If cast iron is taken care of properly, it can last for generations, much like a cared-for marriage.
At a family event recently, I looked around at the aunts and uncles, cousins, and distant family members enjoying each other’s company. This clan did not exist at all just 70 years ago. But through my grandparents and parents, a love for family and a care to restore marriages has been passed down. Like cast iron, which can give joy and pleasure to our posterity, a marriage cared for and seasoned can be passed down and give benefit to generations to come.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.