Tuesday, Tuesday! It’s here again – and if you haven’t been able to tell, although other commentary on the blog has reached its summer hiatus, Tuesdays continue. So, read about how one little meal changed a woman’s life …and be encouraged by the words of my sister-in-law, Melissa, in the meantime! Read, share and cheer her on today!
My husband, Brandon, and I lived in Hawaii for six years after we were first married. He was in the Navy, and was stationed at Pearl Harbor. For the majority of the first two years of our marriage, I was a Navy wife, living on my own, as Brandon went in and out to sea on board a submarine.
When we first got married, I was not a true believer of anything religious. I really had no use for an all knowing deity in my life. I did recognize a need for a community, and frankly, I couldn’t find worthwhile friends in the Wives Club that was established for the women who were left behind for months at a time. The first underway I endured after Brandon and I got married left me feeling terrified. Our small home was on the far side of the island, and it had been broken into several times.
But right before Brandon left for a 25-day underway, we had dinner with some friends of his. I walked in shy, which isn’t my personality, and sat filled with apprehension as dinner was passed around the table. I didn’t know at the time that this dinner was going to light a fire in my life.
The wife, upon hearing of my plight, immediately offered to let me sleep in her guest bedroom while Brandon was away. Her home was much closer to my work and therefore much closer to comfort for me, so I jumped at a chance to stay with virtual strangers.
During these 25 days with strangers, we became friends. They introduced me to their friends, and invited me to their church. In an effort to not be rude, I went to church with them each Sunday, and was cordial at dinners with the people who were part of their community.
Eventually, their community started to blend into my community as well. We started have weekly dinners where we ate a lot and talked about everything. And at the heart of these dinners was Jesus. I started to feel a tug on my heart I had never felt before during any of my other religious explorations.
After awhile, the original couple moved away, but the group (with a whopping six adults), moved to meeting at our house. Every Monday we would potluck a huge meal and enjoy each other. We grew to know one another on an intimate level. We knew each other’s fears and celebrations; we knew when one another was hurting. We were never afraid to grow, to allow our rough edges to be seen. When we had a question, no matter how absurd to our own ears, it was accepted with love and knowledge. Eventually, our Mondays turned into Tuesday chats on the phone when one of us was in need, or Wednesday afternoon coffee dates to discuss the week’s topic, and even Friday afternoon pedicures for laughter and a feeding of unlikely friendships.
The group eventually grew even larger. We were a hodge podge of people from church, people from the dog park, people from Brandon’s submarine. We really had nothing in common on the outside, yet the conversations we had each week, at the feet of an older woman, shaped us in ways we never imagined. No matter that there were moments when our feeble human hearts would say, “our group is big enough…”, the seams would open up just a little bit more, our table would somehow get just a little bit bigger, Jesus would show that He had room.
I eventually, after weeks and months of sharpening, loved Jesus back. We watched others have their moment of accepting grace and mercy, sitting on couches that were filthy, but comfortable. We ate meals together, and we laughed out loud as things like sex, rock and roll, and Jesus were discussed in detail. We created friendships and “families” that spread over the country (and Canada), that will be part of our lives forever.
The first meal with virtual strangers shaped my life.
Melissa is a wife and a mom, a friend and an elementary school teacher. She and her husband, Brandon now reside in Idaho Falls, Idaho with their son, Jared, and their dog, Sugar. She loves her family more than anything, doesn’t need coffee to survive, and has a newfound love for the touring musical Book of Mormon. Leave a comment and encourage our friend today!