I have a love/hate relationship with mealtimes. If I've prepared a meal that I know the girls will eat, I love mealtime. If, on the other hand, I've prepared something I know the girls will not eat, I hate mealtime. Mostly dinnertime. I enjoy cooking and I love to sit together as a family for dinner. In fact dinnertime spent together as a family is of huge importance to me. I was raised in a family where dinners were spent together at the table. Even when my dad was traveling my mom, brother and I still sat down together. I have great memories of dinnertime.
And now I have my own family. A 4 year-old and and a 2 year-old to contend with. I am not a short order chef and I don't make separate meals for the girls so that they are happy. I cook one dinner, but always try to include at least one thing on the girls' plates that I know they do like...usually fruit. We have one rule at our house when it comes to meals. We ask that the girls take 2 "thank you" bites of each of the foods on their plate without being asked. Now Andee's not quite there yet, but Charlee understands the expectation.
The other night we sat down to dinner and there were two very ungrateful faces sitting across the table from me. Not cool at all. I got frustrated. In fact, one could say I was clearly irritated. I might have told Charlee to get down from the table because I was tired of seeing her ungratefulness. (Not a brilliant move on my part, but there was repentance later!) You see, it's not about the amount of food that's eaten, it's about the state of their hearts when eating it. It's not about whether they try new things, it's about whether or not they're grateful that they've been given food to eat at all.
Irritated...check. Annoyed...check. Prideful...check. Sinful...check, check, check! Yep, that's me! Basically, I decided in that moment I was done cooking for them. Done. I wouldn't even give them dinner. I would just cook dinner for Adam and I and we could eat together in peace. Good plan.
Yep. God started working in my heart. Fairly certain this won't be the last time either. Really? Never give them dinner again? Not likely. I thought to myself, "What would Jesus want me to do in this situation?" Cliche, right? But the answer is more than slightly humbling. He would want me to turn over my selfish pride, my agenda, my expectations. I don't believe that means letting go of my desire that they would eat "thank you" bites with a grateful heart, but how can I expect them, sinners like me, to get it? At 2 and 4, really? Don't I still struggle to "get it"? Yes. And so I will keep doing what I've been doing. Cook a meal for the family and what's eaten is eaten and what's not is not and it's not the end of the world. The important thing is leaving a legacy of time spend together as a family. A legacy where meals are not a battle, where food is not the issue. The issue is the heart...theirs and mine.
Thank you, Lord, for your sweet conviction. So gentle and loving...always. For revealing my sin. Please help me to give my girls grace, as You've given me grace.