Sometimes, around our boisterous dinner table, I wonder if we’re doing anything well, if we’re doing this parenting thing okay. I wonder what our boys will remember: the millionth time I ask them to sit properly, the conversations about their days, or the bickering over the last corn on the cob.
When I’m honest, I can feel the pressure and anxiety mount as I wonder if we’ll pass as parents, if our kids will want to come to their childhood home and be with us as peers.
Will we be enough? Will our home be enough?
As I slip into anxious moments, I hold tighter as I try to control the volume instead of simply letting us laugh and learn and be together. I forget that home has always been about belonging, and that behavior always follows love.
Jesus told a parable about a father who didn’t control so tightly that his sons flew out of his clasped hands. When one son was lost, the father spent his days on the porch, his eyes scanning the horizon for his boy. And when his son came home? While the son was still a long way off, the father picked up his skirts and ran to meet his boy.
The father kissed the self-imposed exile and welcomed him, not with a lecture of shame, but with the undeserved love of a father who just wants his boy home.
And that second son? The son who was too proud to go into the party? The Father came to get him too. He came and stood with him in his self-righteous envy and offered himself. He offered joy. He told his son that home is about belonging. That we throw big parties when someone is lost and then found, and that we can be lost and alienated even when we stay where we’re supposed to and perform perfectly.
Home flies in the face of performance. It says boldly and with abandon, “You are welcome here.” It is the embrace of a Father who covers our shame with a new robe and a ring on our fingers. It is the presence of a Father who doesn’t shame or guilt us into change, but offers transformation through Himself.
Home leaves space open for us to thrash about in confusion, or rebellion, or pain. It opens the door to hard conversations, where “Would you forgive me?” becomes a staple in family dialogue. Home invites us to lay down our rebellion — whether we do that through blatant leave-taking or perfect performance — and admit our need.
No, our homes will never be enough. I won’t be enough. In my own strength I can’t muster a perfect household, nor would I want to.
Because, ultimately, our homes here-and-now point us to a one-day perfect home. A home where we’re always welcome. A home where our needs are known, cared for, and attended to gently. A home where the misfits gather — both the exile and the do-gooder — around a table spread with a feast in the presence of Jesus. That’s the home where we truly fit, where we’ll all belong.
So I can breathe at my dinner table when the noise begins to ratchet up and I realize that this too is part of Thy Kingdom come.
It is part of the glorious mundane and it, too, is holy.
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