My husband declared a moratorium on me bringing meals to friends or families from church. I was really upset about and fought him on it. After all, people had been incredibly generous with us when we needed meals: through Mr. DIH’s illness last spring, the birth of a new baby, and a two week bout with RSV and the flu. Wasn’t it our turn to serve others?
What good is to serve others, my husband asked, if I was doing at the expense of my family?
Here I was, trying to cook 2 meals for 2 different families, only days after having gotten over the flu. I’d already gone to 2 different stores looking for a simple ingredient and finally had to send my husband to a third store before we finally found it (a can of red enchilada sauce of all things!). And while I was cooking, the baby was crying, Donut was needing something and I was using our precious Sunday together being snippy because I was Trying to Get Things Done.
I had it in my head that I needed to love our neighbor and that meant signing up to cook for others. I don’t know why I couldn’t see that even though it was me doing the cooking, that I’d dragged my whole family into it.
And then it dawned on me: my family, my husband and my kids, they are my neighbor too.
And I was not serving them well. Yes, I am called to serve, but I’m called to serve in love. (See Galatians 5:13).
It makes no sense for me to be running the kids around town buying groceries, then trying to frantically cook for others, getting stressed and angry when no one in my house would cooperate with my schedule (It’s 1pm, why aren’t you napping??), and then taking them out again during the worst time of day to deliver a dinner meal. That’s not loving towards them.
It makes no sense for me to neglect my husband when he’s home because I’m too busy running an errand or spending more time in the kitchen than with him. That’s not loving towards him.
My husband made it clear that he wasn’t against the idea of serving others outside of our family–it just isn’t the season to serve in this particular way. There are plenty of other ways to serve. I just needed to look outside the casserole dish.
Some friends helped me realize that when I text them to see if they are having a good day, pray for them, or even share something online, that I am serving them. I’ve baby-sat here and there for friends’ kids, which serves as a play date for my kids. I’ve helped corral their kids at the mall, shared snacks, opened my home to play dates, offered to be “on-call” when my pregnant friends go into labor. Why couldn’t I see that those things are service too? It doesn’t have to be a tangible gift in order to be a gift.
We all have talents and strengths. We are all at different places in our lives too. We should find ways then to serve others accordingly. And to remember all along that serving our very own families is loving and serving our neighbor too.