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Secret Meaning of Beans

During a rough patch in life, her faith was strengthened through a bowl of bean soup, and she was reminded that no matter where you live, you never move away from God.

Dry soup beans

I was a single mother raising three teenagers when I met John, who had two young children of his own. After a two-year, long-distance relationship, we decided to get married, and John and I agreed that my kids and I would move halfway across the country to Kansas from our home in Seattle.

I loved John, but I was anxious about the move. Nevertheless, we packed our things and began a new life in the plains. It wasn’t easy. The kids didn’t make new friends as quickly as I had promised them they would. And I missed my old house, friends, job and the familiar surroundings of the Pacific Northwest.

Even God seemed far away. One dark, rainy day I poured my heart out to him: “Lord, please give me the fruits of the spirit, especially joy and peace.”

It was then, as I prayed, that I thought about making bean soup. I wondered if I had any beans on hand. Mentally I went through my pantry and remembered a jar with layers of different colored beans that a friend had given me before I left Seattle.

From the back of my cupboard I took out the jar, feeling another pang of homesickness. A hand-printed recipe hung from the lid on a piece of red yarn. I read it and dumped the beans into a pot to wash them. Then I saw something on the back of the card. My friend had matched the types of beans with eight virtues. “My family has used this recipe for generations,” she explained. As I read the list I recognized the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians:

Pearl Barley—Love

Split Peas—Joy

Black Beans—Peace

Red Beans—Patience

Pinto Beans—Kindness

Navy Beans—Goodness


Black-eyed Peas—Self-control

When my family gathered around the table in front of piping hot bowls, I told them about our Fruits of the Spirit soup. “God will help us make it here,” I said. And indeed we did. Soon enough the kids made new friends, and I found peace in my new home. But most important, I found that with faith you never move away from God, only closer. A nearly forgotten jar of beans reminded me of that.

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