|Original Image used with permission- thanks to The Accidental Nomad|
I'm sitting at a barely big enough kitchen table, the toddler determined to get herself into precarious situations climbing on stools and stretching her chubby little legs to hop from one chair to the other, your boys offering up commentary and asking for second helpings.
It feels a lot like my own childhood, crammed into a little kitchen full of noise and laughter and an occasional reminder to chew with mouths closed. Familiar.
And I realize how much I missed this.
Infertility has stolen so much, touched so many places in my soul that I'm still recognizing just how much its affected me.
It has changed the way I do friendship.
My adult friendships often make me feel unimportant, immature, like I can't relate. I love Bible studies with these women and the opportunities we have to connect over the Word of God, but when it comes to talk of potty training or discipline or pregnancy pains, I have nothing to contribute.
I listen and learn and squirrel away the information for a someday I know may never come. I take in the grace and wisdom of their experiences, but I still feel the pain of the not knowing. Of being "other."
And honestly, that feeling brings pain- another splinter from this cross I embrace. And so, like the child who runs from the parent holding the tweezers, I avoid it.
I nurse my injured heart in solitude. In isolation.
Of course, I make practical excuses- my house isn't really child-friendly, and I don't have enough toys for their kids to play with. Our schedules are so different- me working full time, and them with park meet ups and lunch dates and nap times.
And so, between the logistical challenges and my own insecurity and sense of irrelevance, I've never invited them over for supper. I've never shared a meal in my home with these ones with whom I share my heart. I don't really eat meals with them.
Jesus was just the opposite.
Read through the Gospels- he's always eating with people.
And when he's not sitting at the table, he's talking about food.
He talks about living water, about the bread of life. He teaches the disciples to pray for their daily bread and he calls them fishers of men.
And when he's not talking about food, he's providing it.
He turns water into wine, overfills fishing nets, makes a small lunch into a meal for thousands.
I can't help but wonder at his invitations- how the people called out must have felt to be invited by this great teacher, this interesting Jesus character. After all, the ones he ate with were often people probably disused to being included.
Tax collectors and prostitutes were his guests... as were teachers of the law and respected officials. The dregs of society were just as welcome (if not even more welcome) as Pharisees and scribes when it came to the seats around the table of Jesus.
I wonder if they remembered a bit of childhood, sitting and eating with him. I wonder if they remembered how it felt to be valued and to belong. Familiar.
Jesus was all about pulling up another chair, welcoming another soul, sharing a meal and a conversation. He brought the lost back into the fold and told the undesirables that he wanted to eat with them. No matter their background or past mistakes, no matter their social standing or wealth or political beliefs, Jesus invited them to the table.
He invites you.
I'm seated at your kitchen table, as your son shyly asks me to pass the salad and your other son blows bubbles in his milk and ducks his head under the table to giggle. Your toddler smiles mischievously as she puts her foot up on the table, waiting for you to tell her to put it down.
And you apologize for the chaos and I wonder if you can see the gratitude in my eyes.
You have done this amazing thing and invited me in. You've brought me into the rhythms of your family, and you've shown me a kind of love that the world doesn't really understand. It's vulnerable, messy, and chaotic. It doesn't always make a lot of sense and it won't be featured on any decorating websites and it may not be what people expect.
But it's so good.
You've pulled up another chair to your table for me.
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