We need each other. This is a truth I know, and yet in the routine busyness of daily living I can still be surprised by the power of this simple reality.
A few weeks ago Emily flew across the country from her home on the east coast to stay with us for a week. Emily is 22-years-old, and her dad married my best friend five years ago. Mark died of cancer last fall, and from the ashes of that loss our friendship with Emily has blossomed into the beauty of family.
I joyfully anticipated Emily’s visit for months. It’s always fun being a tourist in “America’s Finest City”. But even with all the amazing things to do in San Diego, my favorite moments shared with Emily were the ones that happened in my backyard. Gathering around my table with our Thursday Night Guys. My sons introducing Emily to Baskin-Robbins clown cone sundaes. Shooting targets with Jordan’s miniature cross bow. Playing a family game of badminton.
As much as I would like for my family to be all about laughing, and playing, and eating ice cream cones – the reality is that the day to day moments in my home are sometimes hard, or tense, or frustrating, or boring. And after returning to Virginia, Emily shared in a blog post that a meaningful experience of her visit with my family was getting to peak behind the curtain of my daily life. She observed that a life that can look perfect from the outside, is full of challenges, love, disappointment, and joy from the inside. As she continues to grieve the loss of her dad and navigate through a future that is so different than what she imagined – a front row seat to the imperfections of a joy-filled life has offered her the freedom to move from a place of feeling stuck, to exploring what she is learning and how she is growing and who she is becoming through the wholeness of her imperfect story.
So much of our lives are shared over social media. But images can be crafted and edited. And while a photograph can capture a moment that is truly beautiful, pictures can never tell the whole story. We need to be physically present in each others lives. To pull up a chair at one others tables and share with vulnerability and listen without judgement. We need to laugh and cry and say “me too” and we talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful of our individual stories.
Our dinner tables are our best resource for offering a common ground where people can share honestly about life. When we are gathered around a table, intimate conversations connect us to the wholeness that can be found in our brokenness. It is through face to face conversation that we discover that no one’s life is perfect, but there is so much good to be experienced within all the imperfection.
When we are willing to be honest and vulnerable, the conversation and connection that happens around our dinner tables really can transform us one shared meal at a time.