The Great British Bake Off

Candice’s tearful chat at the end of the Bake Off this year made me feel all the feels. Not just because she won the coveted cake stand, but because of what it meant to her: ‘I’m good. I’m good enough’. (I couldn’t find a clip of that moment, but the Telegraph records it, so close enough)

Last year Nadiya said, ‘I’m not going to say I can’t do it. I can. I can do anything.’

Even just those two statements together make me angry/sad/frustrated/other feelings. Our internal monologue gets set so early.

What has happened in our society that it takes impressing Paul and Mary with an insane amount of baking to feel like you’re actually enough? Knowing that we place our self-worth in what other people think about us has been a cornerstone of British culture for too long. When we believe in ourselves, we do better in life- studies show that young people who have self-confidence do better in maths and sciences. (Telegraph, 5th March 2015) Typically girls outperform boys academically- except it seems in these areas. Another article from The Independent states that based on Future Foundation research, 1 in 4 girls has low self-esteem. The knock on effect of this is the loss of these girls in high powered positions, in government, in athletics.

Our self-esteem tells us what we can (and cannot) achieve. Our lack of self-esteem tells us only what we can’t. Yet, no-one can build your self-esteem for you- Candice admits that in the first interview, saying ‘I have low self-belief, even though my friends and family constantly build my confidence up’. It’s got to be something that we have internalised, something that we know, independent of what another person says.

As Christians, our faith gives us this basis, the place to come back to, the firm foundation of our worth: Ephesians 1 tells us that God, in love, chose us for adoption into the family of Jesus. We’re sons and daughters of God. More than that, we get a role, a job, a calling, ‘but you are a royal priesthood’ (1 Peter 2.9). We’re adopted, and we’re commissioned. This is where we need to rest, this is the foundation for everything that we tell ourselves.

How have we messed this up? We’re called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5.14) and to be a place that the sick and weary and downhearted can find rest. Jesus said ‘it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ (Mark 2.17). Our churches should be hospitals (and I just recognised the link between hospital and hospitable – they both come from hospes in Latin, meaning host, guest, stranger. There’s a notion of making space, of welcoming the other) and they should be hospitable to those who are other and who need our care. We often forget that the church is a place for the needy and scared to meet with the sacred. It’s a place for healing, which can only come when we admit that we’re broken.

The church can’t function as a Hospitable (ha! I did it again. I meant Hospital), though, because people aren’t walking through our doors anymore. Last year 52% of Brits said that they were non-religious. (survey) This speaks to a culture shift and people who are less and less  likely to hear about and access the life-changing message of Jesus. What do we do? We get out, open the doors, invite people in, sure, but also be present in the rest of the world. We are the church.

The Hollywood handshake shouldn’t be the most exciting and encouraging thing that we can aim for.


(My sister and I made a Marjolaine cake at Christmas in 2014. It was delicious.)

(I wouldn’t say no to a Hollywood handshake though.)