Thursday, May 2, 2013

'The one who does not eat everything'

Romans 14:3 (NIV)

The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
We had a delightful, home-cooked dinner tonight. Max helped prepare the meal. When I got home after running a package to the post office, he and Charlie were sitting at the table, each with their own bowl. Max was thrilled his cheese melted, Charlie was excited he could say “Noodles.” And here I sit, with both kids upstairs sleeping and their bowls of food sit at the other end of the table, maybe three bites were taken from both combined.

It’s good to know God has accepted the little ones who live here and won’t eat what the grown-ups have for dinner, but it’s still pretty frustrating. I try not to treat them with contempt, but it is neither cost effective nor nutritionally prudent to prepare frozen fried food (chicken nuggets, mini-corn dogs, pizza) day in and day out just to get the satisfaction of empty plates.

Fortunately picky eaters, while challenging, are not a deep spiritual challenge. Devising strategies has proven emotionally taxing, and each refusal to consume a perfectly normal meal presents an opportunity for parental exhibition of patience and dignity. But I imagine if we can get each kid a high school diploma with our biggest complaint being, “They never ate what we made for dinner,” it will have been a smoother ride than anticipated.

Still, it can sometimes be difficult to see the big picture when the small stuff is so aggravating. This is true with so much more than just food. Almost all parents of generally good kids still struggle with something: homework, practicing musical instruments, brushing teeth, hygiene, messy rooms, picking on siblings — and those are just a few things I know I did that drove my parents crazy. Trying to get kids to improve in these problem areas isn’t a matter of perfection, it’s about using the time you have as their greatest influence to try to shape them into a responsible person.

I’d love for my kids to eat what we prepare. Chances are they’ll grow into it. My own diet has evolved a fair amount from my youth, and my siblings have drastically changed their food intake. But we can all still have family dinners together and realize the important thing is the communal time and not that everyone’s plate holds the same ingredients.

Still, dumping full bowls of dinner into the garbage at the end of the night… ugh. I’ll file this one under “Some day they’ll be parents and their kids will do the exact same thing to them.” It’s not much consolation, but for tonight, it’s enough.

A prayer for May 2:

Lord, I worry I take for granted the abundance in my life. I am richly blessed in the things that truly matter, and I’m in plenty good shape elsewhere once I apply proper perspective. I need to be thankful every day for my lot in life and live a life that reflects that gratitude. Please continue to bless our family as the children learn and grow, and help me do whatever I can to make sure they become happy, healthy young men worthy of you. Amen.

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