Monday, April 16, 2012

When Mealtime is Bad

Sitting down to a meal together isn't always good.

Ever think you'd see me write that? Neither did I. 

Recently I've been looking at the meals in the Bible to see what I can learn. If you are familiar with the Bible at all, you know that the families in the Bible had problems. Some of them could be called "dysfunctional". God has chosen to let us see the reality of human-kind and how He can work in them, through them, and even in spite of them. So when we see them eat together, they aren't always connecting in the best ways.

One meal I read about today is in Genesis 37:25. Jacob's sons are out in the field taking care of their sheep and it says, "Then they sat down to eat a meal." 
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Wow! They took the time out of their work (and I'm sure shepherding is one of those there-is-always-something-that-could-be-done jobs) to stop, sit, and eat together. That's good, right? Well...that part is, but if you look at the story surrounding that meal, the whole situation isn't good.
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Joseph had just come out to find his brothers as told to do by his father, Jacob. But the brothers were jealous of Joseph because of his dreams (Genesis 37:5-11) and because he was their father's obvious favorite (Genesis 37:3). When they saw him coming they decided to kill him, but Reuben managed to get them to *only* throw him in a pit.

This is when they sit down to have that meal.

While they are sitting there the caravan of Ishmaelites comes along on its way to Egypt. The table conversation then turns to, "Hey, instead of killing him, let's sell Joseph and make a profit. He is our brother after all." So they did.

I remember once in Peru when we were teaching at a couple's dinner about the importance of family mealtimes. One man spoke up and said, "I don't see how they are good. When we were young we ate together and it was the time for my father to say to us, 'You, why did you talk to your mother that way?' and 'You, you'd better get busy and do your school work well or I'll be after you with my belt!' and 'You, what are you making faces for?'..."
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It's true, sitting down together isn't magic. We have to be intentional about our family mealtimes or we're not going to connect in the ways we want. We're probably not going to end up deciding to sell someone into slavery (not to say it hasn't flitted through someone's mind once or twice), but we can get into habits that make it a time people want to flee.

So decide to make your family times around the table upbeat times that create happy memories. That's what I'm trying to help you do with this blog with conversation ideas, devotion ideas, and just plain fun ideas for your family mealtimes . Look around at past posts and come back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to get more ideas. 

I'd love your feedback, too. Write a comment below any post to which you have an idea to add or a question about. Or write me an email here. You can help shape this blog and make it more useful to you and others!

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