Getting a family dinner on the table can feel relentless. Whether we serve up a success or a flop, the next meal will follow fast on its heels.

As mothers, one great temptation is to grow weary in doing good. We do so much of the same work, day in and day out, that it’s easy to lose the plot, to lose ourselves, to lose a desire to do…anything.

Family dinner weariness

God knows our temptations and provides mercy right where we need it. He reminds us, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap if you do not give up.”

There will come a time for reaping, even if everything around us feels constantly pointless. All the work seems to be constantly undone and going nowhere fast, yet we’re reminded that a harvest is on the way.

What is that harvest? What kind of harvest are we expecting from our work? Sometimes we don’t even notice the harvest gift we’ve been given because our heart and expectations are not in line with God’s work in our lives.

Dinner is one such area. Perhaps the harvest we are hoping for is being able to not make dinner every night. Perhaps the payoff we want is for making dinner to not cause a mess or for our husband and kids to clean up after us.

If such is the case, our vision is too small and totally off base.

The purpose of family dinners

Yet this verse holds out promise of a harvest as a reason to not grow weary, to not give up. So knowing what purpose we’re working toward, what payoff and blessing we will receive does help us stick faithfully to our work.

One reason we get discouraged and burnt out making meals for our family is that we treat it as a bare animal necessity. We operate as if the world is only material, only atoms bouncing around, and every day we have to rearrange a few to keep alive the collection of atoms we call our family.

Although keeping our family alive, healthy, and active is a good goal, so much more is going on than just biological feeding.

Meals carry spiritual and relational weight. Even the most simple food, when shared around a table with others, feeds us in more ways than merely physically.

In one way or another, with differing conventions, every culture has hospitality practices that connect the community – and most of them involve food and drink.

More than physical food

The myth of the secular West is that we’re now too smart, too advanced, to have superstitions about food and togetherness. The myth of the secular West is that we have transcended our humanity.

But it is a false myth and a bad narrative. We are still humans, and those who have no basic hospitality in their human experience are starved humans.

Family dinners are the bedrock of basic culture and civilization. Even if it’s just hamburger helper or rice and beans, when the family sits around the table, prays together, then eats together, we are all being civilized, connected, nourished spiritually and relationally.

You don’t have to cook fancy meals or make elaborate meal plans to build back culture and civilization. Feasts are great, but they are Culture 2.0 that require Culture 1.0 to be installed first.

Hospitality starts with family dinners

When family dinners are normal, extending hospitality beyond your immediate family suddenly becomes feasible. Instead of being daunted by pulling together a dinner party menu, you simply double your family dinner and invite another family.

Community is built by families sharing family meals more than by big events or fancy dinner parties. Such can be a nice extra. However, many today are lacking even the most basic community habits, which means our baby step can be starting at the very beginning: make eating dinner around a table with our family normal, then once or twice a month, add another family around that same normal family dinner.

Yes, to do this we need to be better managers of our resources. Basic cooking techniques, simple recipes, and stocked pantries of ingredients also need to be the norm.

If that’s where you need to start to reclaim basic hospitality and establish your home as a home base of sanity, community, and civilization, then Simplified Pantry can help you put together a doable plan for your own particular situation.

Download the free menu planning templates – including a master pantry list – that will help you get every meal on the table with less fuss.

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