This is story about a church friend of mine who had a baby. This was a very short time after I had a baby. AND, I was pregnant with my second baby. I was probably due in a matter of 3 or 4 months. I was new to getting back into the swing of church and I was all over taking food to new mothers...probably because no one from our church had brought me food with my still relatively new baby. Not that it mattered, we were very blessed with my mom-in-law, mom and sisters coming over and helping us with food and chores and settling in. Plus, we were not very plugged in at church and did not even know people brought food to new mothers. But, now we were in a life group called a CARE group and we were learning all the ins and outs of how our church operated.
So back to this friend. I worked all day on making food for her and her new little family and I was so very excited to deliver it. Erik stayed in the car with baby Erika and I brought the box of food in. I was greeted with thank yous and sharing all the baby talk and fussing over the nursery. Then she asked what we brought and I answered her questions. And then it started. She spent the next 10 minutes complaining about the food brought to her. They had chicken 3 nights in a row and so and so brought too much and the leftovers were taking over and she just wondered if the food would ever end. And I faked a smile on my face and made small talk back to my car. I got in and waved as we pulled out and sobbed all the way home.
True, I was definitely hormonal. True, too much food was a problem I had not had. True, I was playing a comparison game where I was the loser. But mostly true, it broke my heart how some people just get so much loved poured over and heaped on them and they are not even blessed by it. It broke places in my heart because all the love I put into her meal was not received or enjoyed. It just hurt my feelings...and my pride...and my self esteem...and it began a series of hurts received by me by the group that was my peers at my church. BUT, more importantly, it broke places in me that needed to be broken for God to begin the miracle of making me DIFFERENT. Different from the people we attended church with. Different from the people I grew up with and DIFFERENT from any 'religious' person I had ever known.
I fast forward to a surgery I had last week. AND, we have been blessed by our family, friends, and church family in amazing ways. Food, visits, cards, offers to run errands, encouragement on facebook, through texts, phone calls and so on. I cannot imagine not loving the hearts behind every SINGLE gesture of good will directed my way. I see God in every single episode. God caring and nurturing me along with beautiful relationships with people who truly LOVE me. AND if no one had done anything at all, then I would have counted the blessings of having a family with children old enough and capable enough to step up and help dad take care of me. I would have found God's providence in that as well.
I love that I am different than that soon-to-be brand new mom of two. I'm glad I quit comparing how many casseroles I get versus how many someone else gets. I'm glad I don't measure my worth by the people I'm surrounded by. I'm glad I don't measure THEIR worth by whether or not they cook well or cook at all. I'm glad I GREW UP and now take an act of kindness as just that...an opportunity to be blessed by my heavenly father through community. I am glad to be on the giving end of that sometimes too. It is truly a gift- TO GIVE AND TO RECEIVE. I am glad to say we enjoy leftovers almost as much as the meal...and we don't ever like wasting food-especially the food someone loved us enough to bring. BUT, above all, living in community with a church that is different in many of the same ways I am DIFFERENT is the best gift of all. We aren't just going through the motions of church casserole etiquette...we really mean it when we pay a kindness. It isn't just for show, it is for all of us to be blessed through Christ and to pass it on to someone else every chance we get.
Oh how I pray that the friend I once had has learned that lesson too. She doesn't go to our church anymore, but I still hope God has done the same work in her, that she has been broken enough to let God in. It was never really about the food, it was about being blessed. And we all are so very blessed...sometimes we can't even see it because we are too busy looking in the fridge and just seeing a bunch of leftovers.