I have two older brothers. All three of us are less than a year and a half apart. My little sister is eleven years younger than me. During our elementary school days, many mornings my brothers and I would fight (yes, literally) over who had to eat the end of the loaf of bread. It was supposed to be an orderly affair. After all the other bread was gone, if it was your turn to put some bread in the toaster, and there was only one sad, paper-thin, crinkled-up, over-cooked end of the loaf, it was yours. Our mother made sure we did not throw it away and open up a new loaf of bread.
Some think I’ve always been calm and kind. Nothing could be further from the truth. I stood up to my older brothers many times. Yet, they were so much stronger than me, and they could usually make me do whatever they wanted to. That included taking the end of the loaf, even if it wasn’t my turn. Maybe if this had been a really important issue, like who gets the prize at the bottom of the cereal box, I would have put up a fight, even if I would have lost. I wasn’t afraid to fight. But instead, I agreed to be the one to eat the ends of every loaf of bread. This tradition continued all the way through high school when my brothers and I went our separate ways.
Just a few months before my wedding day, my fiancée joined me at my mom and dad’s house for breakfast. My sister, who at that time was just about to enter her teen years, helped make the breakfast. As we sat down, she brought over a saucer with toast on it and said, “just like you always liked it.” I laughed and said that’s funny. She said, “you do like the ends of the loaf don’t you?” At that moment, it occurred to me she was being serious. She never knew why I ate the ends of the loaf. She really thought I liked the taste of the ends better than the rest of the bread. I then smiled and said, yes, the ends are my favorite. I didn’t tell anyone the back-story. For years, even my wife thought I actually loved the taste of the end of the loaf better than the rest of the bread.
As the years went along, my children became old enough to make their own toast. They definitely didn’t like to eat the ends of the loaf anymore than my brothers did. They always left the ends for me. When my children read this they will question if I’m telling the truth because they really believe I like the ends better. I suppose, in a way, they would be right. I really wasn’t lying when I would tell my sister the ends are my favorite. But not because the ends taste better. It was because the ends of the loaf represented something to me.
Eating the ends was proof that I knew how to be kind. Many years ago, my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Turner, had challenged everyone in the class to do something that week that proved they were kind. Chances are, I’m the only one in the class who thought of eating the ends of the loaf of bread.
There are things worth fighting for. But the very most important things in life are worth “not” fighting for. What is your proof that you know how to be kind? Could you prove in a court of law that you were kind today? If nothing comes to mind, try volunteering to eat an end of the loaf. It may not taste great, but it sure will make you feel great.
Rick Moore is Communications Pastor at Destiny Worship Center.