by Dena Green
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Psalm 128:2
When we want to catch up with friends or family, what do we usually do? We plan a dinner date or a cook-out or special meal at our home. We celebrate holidays, birthdays, or special events with meals together. When was the last time you invited the members of your household to a meal at your table? TV off, cell phones and electronics put away, out of sight and hearing distance.
In the Bible, many times we see Jesus having meals with people. Meals with his disciples, his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It is part of our Biblical heritage as meals together are mentioned all through the Bible. God gave feasts for his people to observe “together” in remembrance of Him. Important things took place at meals.
Meals together are so important for a family. It is a time when we can teach our little ones table manners and how to act and behave at the table. They can see you pray as a family over a meal and realize the importance of giving thanks to the Lord for all he provides for us. They learn concern and compassion for other as each person or only one shares something about their day, good or bad. It is a place to connect as a family for a few minutes out of the day and for the kids to share with mom and dad about anything on their minds.
Is meal time always pleasant? Absolutely not! Many times when our children were younger, we came to the table and had tears and frustrated parents and moody teens. Meltdowns occurred because they didn’t want to eat. Big brother picked on little sisters and little sisters annoyed their teen siblings. Some days, we wanted to throw in the towel and give up. But many, many more times we came together and had belly laughs over something funny. We laughed just because someone else was laughing and not really sure why. We took time to pray for an upcoming test or a classmate going through a rough time. We prayed over family issues or a sick loved one.
Your meal time may not look the same as other families’, but find what works for yours. Be deliberate and persistent. Don’t feel overwhelmed or guilty. If you don’t feel you have time, start with just one meal and work toward it becoming a habit. This is an important investment in your family and the dividends will be well worth your efforts. Even secular studies report the positive benefits for a family that connects during at least a couple of meals each week. Check out this Washington Post article.
As a mom, I fought against distractions and activities to have meals around our dinner table as a family, and we managed to get together at least a few times each week in spite of school events and other activities. Even now, with older and two married children, we try as often as we can to catch up with one another with a meal at our house. We have the best times together! If you feed them, they will come!
Psalm 127:4-5 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.