I had an epiphany.
Let’s be real. I’ve had them several times over the course of my life. I doubt this will be the last time the light bulb comes on in the dead of night. That’s the beauty of being alive. Sometimes we take lessons and we learn them over and over, growing slowly as we are ready.
And sometimes it hits us like a frying pan to the noggin.
A few weeks ago—maybe longer—I saw an author friend post a meme about extending your table to those in need or in general. I’m not going to lie. I love her posts. I love being slammed in the face by truth, uplifted by grace, and amused about her family’s antics.
It happened. The words on that meme bowled me over because I believed them. Absolutely believed them.
Don’t hold your breath for flowers and sunshine though. That’s not what happened.
We grew up on WIC (before you could essentially buy lobster with a piece of plastic), back when it was powdered milk, really nasty peanut butter, and a check that specified what should be in your cart.
I’m grateful for that experience. I can’t take it back. Can’t change it. I’m grateful that I lived in a moment where food was available to me. Someone reached out—the system even—and provided that program. I could go on about that type of experience, but that’s not the point here.
Our lives aren’t perfect. Our cars break. Every drain in the house has backed up to the point where you can’t flush the toilet for fear of what’s going to come out the other end. We’ve been up with a crying child. Wrestled with the marital norm for a chance at something better together. Changed jobs. Realized we shouldn’t have changed jobs. Fought about really stupid things. Stressed about money. And loved each other through it all.
Life is an ebb and flow. A give and take.
Extend my table.
The words make sense. They do. They are simple. Perhaps too much.
Extend. My. Table.
At the end of the day, whether life is ebbing or flowing. Giving or taking.
When the baby’s up all night and you haven’t gotten a word in with your spouse in days.
When the sink is backed up and the repairman gives you a figure that doesn’t jive with your bank account.
When the car explodes in your face. When the job wasn’t worth it. When friends come and go.
Extend your table.
It made me mad. It made me want to scream, “My table is extended! What more do you want from me?”
I’ve extended. Extended. Extended. Extended.
Some people make me feel good about that opportunity. Some people don’t. Sometimes I feel used up, chewed up, and worn down.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mother Theresa. I’m not at soup kitchens on holidays. I’m not inviting every homeless person I see in for dinner—or even providing them one as I pass by with my fast food. I’m not handing out oodles of money to charities and various causes. I’m not listening to every problem of those around me and offering a simple hug.
I’m not really doing anything extravagant.
But I believe there’s a reason things happen. I mean, science and religion can agree on that point. I saw that meme for a reason. I felt the intense annoyance and frustration for a reason. For a specific point. About specific events.
For a reason. God was making a point. To me. For me.
I’m not about to blow smoke up your rear here, I’m still working on it. After thirty-three years I doubt the process will be completed before I die.
Extend your table.
It means so much more than those simple words. It means we should quiet everything inside ourselves. We should look around. We should find blessing in whatever we have, wherever we are. We should find a way to bridge gaps, change lives—if only our own—be the best person we can. And when we fail, we should realize that tomorrow is another day. That we are loved no matter what. And that it has no bearing on anything we achieve or don’t achieve in life.
And when extending the table one more time feels like an insurmountable mountain, we should take the time to ask why.
There’s a reason.