Spaghetti and tithing

Being on bed-rest carries significant challenges for me and for my family. Thankfully, we are a part of a community of people who know well how to care for and serve one another. In two days, I can already testify to the willingness of many to make serious sacrifices for our sakes, and as frustrating as this time feels for me on many levels, I am at the same time totally humbled and blessed by so much generosity and love.

Last night, a good friend came by with dinner for our family. My sister was over with her two kids taking care of me and my two, and the day had reached what we moms refer to as “the witching hour”–that delightful convergence of hunger, boredom, late afternoon heat, whatever it is that makes that hour before Daddy shows up so chronically difficult!–when two other friends showed up, uexpectedly. I was having a fair amount of pain at this point, and the level of chaos in our small apartment resulting simply from the number of people in one room was too much for me. I went and laid down in our bedroom to escape.

When it was time to eat, I emerged again, and at some point I realized that my friends who had just stopped by were fixing themselves plates of dinner. This will sound horrible to admit here, but I had this weird flesh reaction to this. I was annoyed that the meal my friend had made (which I was hoping to have last for at least one more meal for our family) was disappearing quickly, and that Doug had not even had a chance to sit down and eat yet. To make matters worse, as they prepared to leave (after staying through bathtime and stories and what small slice of family time we have each day) I heard them ask for more food to take with them.

We regularly share food with these friends, and I am accustomed to them showing up at mealtimes  often enough, but for some reason last night I felt full of bitterness toward them. These are the things we never like to admit about ourselves: our capacity for being truly and deeply selfish; for resenting; for loving ourselves so much more than we are really willing to love another.

It was ironic too because all day long I had been working with Mercy on the issue of “hoarding”. Sweet Grandparents had bought for her an entire Cinderella figurine set, and I have watched as my sweet little girl has become a little hoarder of these items when other kids are around. She will maybe willingly share one or two of the figurines, but she will pile up the other five and keep them to herself. So literally, maybe ten times that day alone I had spoken these words: “Mercy, we do not hoard things in this house.” How I needed my own words spoken to me mere hours later.

I thought too about our act of giving tithes and offerings as part of weekly worship. The dinner that my friend brought over last night was given to us as a gift: I didn’t buy the ingredients; I didn’t cook the food; I didn’t wash a single dish. And yet I managed to quite quickly and easily feel “ownership” over this gift, even to the point of wishing to protect and defend it from others. I cannot help but think how much this mirrors our attitude about money, and how corrupted our view really is when we consider that all we have is gifted to us by God. How ludicrous it really is for us to hoard what has so freely and generously been given to us.

6 thoughts on “Spaghetti and tithing”

  1. I wish I could cook for you … The next time I’m grumbling about needing to cook for someone here, I’ll try to remember how bad it feels not to be able when your heart really wishes.

  2. Thank you for being so honest. You are not alone in descending so quickly into animal responses to the “threat” of others. Your courage to say it aloud gives the rest of us hope that if we, too, can identify it as it’s happening, we can possibly overcome it and let a little grace into our hearts to be reflected back out again.

  3. With tears in my eyes, thank you for this post. Beautiful, honest, transparent…above all, so true. Thank you for baring your soul so our Lord could bare mine as I read. mmmmm…thank you, sister. I really needed to hear this.

    When are you due? My sister-in-law has been on bed rest for the past month. She is due September 13th.

  4. Nathanael,

    I am due on October 3rd, though now I am expecting that we will have this baby a bit before that. Please give my blessing to your sister-in-law: I know how hard prescribed rest can be (as delightful as it would have sounded to me even a week ago!).

  5. Thank you for being so open! I’m enjoying reading your blog. Nathanael gave me the link. I’m his sister in law that’s been on bedrest for 5 weeks now. But this is our first, I can’t imagine having 2 little ones running around while being on bedrest! Praying for you!

  6. I appreciate your openness about your feelings. thanks for sharing. Many times i hoard things. tithing is a good standard to start our giving by. A standard of giving can help us to tame the bad things in us.

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