It was one of those “we had a plan with friends but it was scrapped due to positive COVID test results, a family member lost their job, kids begged to do electronics all day due to the 112-degree heat and Mom lost her cool” kind of day.
I guess we’ve been having more of those than usual around our house lately. Maybe you have too. I think we should just call those kinds of days the new normal for living during a pandemic in a house with multiple people. Those types of days are quite an adjustment from the schedule and routine our family had become accustomed to.
Well, as I mentioned, it was one of those new normal days, and by the time dinner rolled around it was all my husband and I could do to just get food on the table and everyone sitting down to eat together.
After we ate, I glanced at the clock, out of habit, since we usually run on a routine and schedule around here. To my surprise, I noticed that forty-five minutes had passed since we had all sat down. Forty-five minutes had passed and all five of us were still at the table, no longer eating, but talking. Not just talking, but having real conversations about spiritual warfare, facing temptation, frustration with having to start distance learning and wondering if school sports would start up again. Not one of us was getting up to leave. Not one of us had a practice to go to or schedule to meet. We all had the time to sit and be together. We had the time to find community around our own dinner table.
Somehow, within this new kind of exhaustingly normal day, we had been given a gift. A gift of a slower pace. A gift of a chance to redeem some time with our family. An opportunity amidst the tough circumstances to be thankful for all we have been given and build community within our family.
Many of the emotions you and your family are experiencing right now are probably similar to what we have been feeling. We miss attending our church, gathering with friends, playing sports, hugging our grandparents. We are grieving for loved ones who have been very sick, jobs that have been lost, and seeing so many around us taking their grief out in anger on one another. Filling our time with online classes and zoom hangouts has been great but those cannot be a substitute for real community. We miss community.
Gods word, the Bible, says in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
So, moms and dads let’s not stop meeting together.
As your family heads back into school, in whatever form is available to you, take the time each night to sit down at the dinner table. Fix something simple or order out. Let the stresses of the day give way to the art of real conversation with your kids and spouse. Let yourself laugh at the burp that escapes your son’s mouth. Smile and tell your daughter what a treasure she is even though she was slamming her door earlier. Let that toddler sit on your lap and reach up to you with sticky fingers. Ask your family questions. Give them time to answer. And remind yourself that there is the gift of community in each person around your family’s dinner table.
That bigger community we’ve been missing, it will happen again. We will resume attending church, we will be back to 5 days a week baseball practices and that schedule we have to keep will creep back upon us, but while we have this unexpected gift of time let’s build that community within our family.
Let’s bring the family dinner table back y’all.
Warmly and with many prayers for you each,