We all have our “list” of what makes our man a good husband or father. Often times we’re angry and disappointed because he’s not performing to our expectations. For me, it was the expectation of “family dinner.”
All three of the barstools stationed around the island in our kitchen were broken. The first one collapsed as my cousin’s husband sat in it a few years ago. At the time, it was hysterically funny and thankfully he wasn’t hurt. The second barstool followed in the same fashion when one of the boys’ friends sat down. I just took the third one, which was literally on its last leg, out to the trash. The problem is that we just don’t have the money right now for new furniture. Barstools just don’t make the priority list. I even found myself yesterday in the parking lot of World Market praying for a chance encounter with an affordable barstool. As I entered the store, I found one for $25.00. Alas, only one. I didn’t buy it.
Last night as our family sat AT THE TABLE in the breakfast room eating dinner, the miracle dawned on me. You see, my family doesn’t usually sit at the table together during dinner. We hadn’t for years. The kids would sit on the barstools at the island, and my husband would plop on the couch with his dinner plate and turn on the TVin the hearth room. I would be scurrying around filling plates and milk glasses, sometimes even eating standing up. We were all in the same room, but not at the table together. It really bothered me–for years. I found myself avoiding all the radio shows that talked about the importance of family dinner hour. I didn’t want to hear the statistics that linked family dinner to kids staying off drugs. I nagged my husband about it. I pouted about it. We tried to all eat at the table a few times, but the boys would fight, my husband would complain about table manners, and I would feel stressed. It just wasn’t worth it and we went back to our old ways.
I mentioned this shame of no family dinner to my best girlfriend once and she sweetly said that she was going to start praying for God to change all this… but we went on eating dinner in separate places– until the barstools broke. My oldest son started sitting at the table for fear of falling off the one legged barstool, and then my youngest son joined him. I made my way over and the three of us sat, talked and ate our dinners together. It took a few days of this before my husband stopped sitting on the couch and turning on the TV, and instead joined us at the table. This has been our routine now for a few months.
Last night, my oldest boy mentioned how nice it was that we were all eating at the table together. It hit me; this had been going on for months, all because of the broken barstools. It’s not perfect. I’m still standing up for some of it, and the table manners still aren’t great. The dinners, though imperfect, have a sweetness to them because this is our last year all together before my oldest boy leaves for college.
I am reminded today of how God often does His work of restoration in the midst of our lack, our hard times and our “not enoughs”. He is able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine. He didn’t just find me an affordable barstool replacement, He healed something in our family. He piled on His tender mercies, and brought us together around the table. So, if you visit my home anytime soon, you’ll have to pull up a chair around the table. I don’t think I’ll ever replace those barstools!