As I child, I was fascinated with the idea of humanity's intrinsic interconnectedness. That we were all one big family. That we were (despite the politically incorrect racial descriptions) all precious in His sight.
I couldn't quite wrap my mind around this notion, but I distinctly remember daydreaming about inviting everyone to one big, global dinner party--a family reunion, of sorts, I suppose--and how incredibly huge and awesome it would be.
You know, like Chuck E Cheese. But better.
When I entered middle school, a great source of contention arose from my mother's favorite phrase, "family time."
My mom was a firm believer in us spending time together as a family.
So, mealtimes at the Shellenberger abode were almost always spent gathered around the kitchen, TV off and all perched on twirly barstools with the intention of having family time.
"But Mo-om!" my brother and I would whine. "We wanted to watch Home Impro-o-oovement!"
And she would respond through clenched teeth, "We are connecting as a family over dinner. Now tell. Me. About. Your. Day!"
As you can imagine, wiggling out of family dinner was no small feat.
Even if all your friends were going out to dinner. Followed by ice cream. Followed by the third theater viewing of Titanic and if you cared about me at all, you would understand why this is life.or.death. For the love of all things Leo, Mom, pleeeeeeeease!
To which my mom would sigh, "Honey, it is important that we share life together. Because we are a family. And that's what families do."
<insert pre-teen eye roll here>
This growing up thing is strange sometimes.
Like how suddenly--poof!--you are expected to have it all together. Perfectly. In every aspect of life. Immediately.
And--what's that? You don't?
Oh...well...tsk, tsk. Better get to it--
Do this. Control that. Buy this. Eat that. Manage this. Balance that. Juggle this. Add in that. Don't forget this--
Wait, are you...wobbling? Crumbling? Having a hard time?
Oh, dear me, that will not do!
Perfection. Always. And make it look easy.
And if you must, if you really must, struggle--
Do it alone. Do it quietly. Do it with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
And suddenly, the evening meal becomes solitary TV dinners.
Or maybe not even eaten at all.
But don't you see, that by living with such pretense, we are not only crippling ourselves, we are crippling the entire Body?
That we are all a mess, really, and that if we'd just open our eyes and dare to ask a real question and actually wait for a real answer, we would know?
And maybe if we start by sharing our own challenges and our own imperfections that we'd receive grace and hope and help and healing...and that then we may be able to actually do the same for someone else?
And that, sure, it will be messy. And uncomfortable. And terribly unsophisticated but that we are a family?
And that maybe it just starts by one simple step--
Come to the table.
Come as you are.
Crawl, shuffle, scoot, claw, drag yourself to the table.
For it is there we will find rest. Together.