Our family enjoys meal time. It is when we all can sit down, talk, and laugh. We laugh a lot because we have a son who innately understands that the most exhaustive efforts at comedy usually produce the most gratifying response.
But there are times when there is no laughter. Or conversation. Or enjoyment of any kind while we eat.
That is usually because something has sabotaged our dinner.
Sometimes it is a busy night with too many activities and responsibilities.
Sometimes it is conflict over siblings struggling to get along or hurt feelings when the teasing goes too far.
Sometimes it is disappointment from plans that just don’t go our way.
And sometimes it is Spaghetti Squash Alla Carbonara.
This happened at our house recently when I attempted a new dinner recipe for my husband who had just begun a new diet.
The problem was, it involved a great deal of preparation I had not anticipated or attempted before.
Exhausted with the routine fare I usually offer throughout the week and desperate for a new and exciting feast, I ignored the fact that I had never cooked a spaghetti squash before and had no idea what carbonara even meant! (Just being honest!)
But it had BACON in the recipe, so it must be good, right?
If you are like me, we can work and strive for something so hard that we ignore the havoc it wreaks in other areas and relationships. But often, we are too distracted or committed to the idea until it’s too late.
This meal took four times as long to prepare from start to finish than most meals in our home, I dirtied up twice as much cookware, and while studying this new recipe so intently, I ignored the growing frustration of a very hungry baby!
Irritated and exhausted, we finally sat down to dinner an hour later than usual, staring at this blob of Italian spice-speckled bacon and eggs, overwhelmed by the slimy strings of squash. It was quite possibly the most disgusting dish we had ever laid eyes on! But the taste, oh, the taste!
Have you every eaten silly putty or play doh?
Okay, me neither, but it couldn’t be much different.
And so the protesting ensued. It was dramatic. There were tears, denial of hunger that had dominated conversations leading up to dinner, and threats of going to bed hungry, and I don’t have enough space to share the children’s response!
I did not want my Pinterest-worthy “feast” to be dominated by arguing, complaining, and resultant disciplinary action.
Not over food!
Especially when I myself was repulsed!
I want peace and quiet as I sit with my family and talk about our day, discussing friends, activities, future plans, and playing guessing games our children are so fond of! That dynamic draws us closer and creates wonderful memories, regardless of the fare.
Sure, I had invested a LOT of time and effort in this meal. I don’t deny that or suggest that we let kids off the hook anytime they don’t prefer to eat what is provided.
But I recognize that I have a tendency to underestimate my limitations and overestimate my abilities especially during this particular season in my life. In short, I often create my own strife!
After a brief, but noble effort by my family, we eventually removed the dishes from the table and began making up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and whatever scraps would satisfy the empty tummies.
“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1
There are lots of things that can sabotage our meal time with loved ones.
Stress from external sources, finances, or future uncertainties.
Or, sometimes it is the frustration that results from needs that have gone unmet, unhealthy communication dynamics, or trying to keep up appearances.
But where does true satisfaction come from? A full belly or a full heart?
Solomon believed it was better to have little with peace, than to suffer discord even with a feast.
And wow, that peanut butter and jelly sandwich was much, much better!
What about you?
What is robbing you and your household of peace?
What steps can you take to reduce any strife whether it is during your mealtime or in your life in general? Would you be willing to make a dramatic shift in an area that might yield the greatest peace and quiet you have ever known?
If you like discussions like this and would like to receive new content from Crowning Wisdom in your inbox periodically, please sign up here
You can also join our discussions on FB (give us a “Like” please!) or listen to our Podcast “The Way to Wisdom” on iTunes!