As a young girl, I pictured all my future holidays with a Better Homes & Garden theme- my well-behaved family in matching Christmas-plaid clothes, chairs filled with family and friends, and my table festooned with the most lovely mix of florals, candles, and china dishes.
Most of those dreams came to a screeching halt when on our first big holiday, before we even had children, my new not-so-well-behaved husband came out of our bedroom in comfy jeans and a t-shirt, with a big “No, thank you!” to my idea of matching outfits. Misplaced expectations on my part, for sure.
For years, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t achieve the picture perfect holiday or home, so I gave up. Believing what I had wasn’t good enough, I assumed I had nothing to give.
Often, for reasons as various and as complicated as we are, families have become more isolated and our tables have either become another surface to collect piles of laundry or they are beautifully decorated and left to look pretty.
As our family grew up, my husband and I longed to create a home with an come-just-as-you-are policy for those who lived within it’s walls and those who visited.
As life with its challenges stretched us beyond ourselves, we collectively answered the call to minister to others in our home and around our table. It is an act of surrendering our lives and our space to who and what God brought through our front door.
In their book, The Life Giving Home, Sally and Sarah Clarkson describe Home:
“Home isn’t just about happy people making good memories. Home is a shelter where the lonely find rest and the sorrowing come to be comforted. Home is the place where struggles may be admitted and loneliness acknowledged. It’s the place where it is safe to admit how difficult, how dark, how lonely the world sometimes is. But it’s also the ground in which those sorrows are sheltered and softened. Where, by the alchemy of welcome and acceptance, good food and conversation, candlelight and laughter, hope and even gratitude grow.” (The Life Giving Home, pg 215, copyright 2016)
We have a distinct opportunity, to answer to the staggering needs of those around us, around our tables.
It was a couple of years ago, that I pitched an idea to my husband: Let’s open our front door one Sunday night a month. We will fix a simple meal, and invite others to bring their others and eat around our table. That group of others became family who has now gathered at our tables for close to two years.
We sometimes have more people than we have room around the table, so we add another table. Sometimes, due to conflicts with schedules we have just a handful, so we gather close. The door is always open, the food is always plenty, and the noise and mess that we create speaks to the overflowing goodness of God to us.
The holy mixture of breaking bread, sharing life with all of its joys and sorrows, and giving thanks becomes the surrendered table.
“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” -Acts 2:46 (NIV)
What would it take to surrender your home and your table?
From my experience it isn’t about having a perfect home, it’s about having an inviting and generous spirit. It’s not about how many people you invite, but more about those who came leaving loved and filled both in body and soul.
Dust off your table and tidy up your space. Invite a few others to bring others with them. Fill your biggest pot with a hearty soup and butter a few loaves of bread. Open your front door and watch as God uses your life and your tables to change lives and heal hearts.
About the Author: Sheila Taylor is an aspiring author as well as a holder of hands, babies, and hot cups of coffee. She and her husband, Duane, have built their home and family in the beautiful state of Idaho. Sheila works part-time as an office administrator at a birth center and full-time as a keeper of home and family. Sheila dreams of owning a pie shop where she will spend her days serving up heaps of pie and the love of Jesus. You can find her writing at: www.everydaysurrenderblog.wordpress.com