Our family gets to meet many wonderful people across the country. Even before we served the Azure Standard community we were traveling and sharing with families, often allowing us to eat in their home or have them for a meal in our home. This time of year there are more of us gathering together with others who may have different menus than ourselves. So, how do we participate without offending others and yet, not abandon all the hard work we’ve put into our purposeful eating decisions. Here are a few tips we’ve found helpful, do you have a tip you can add to the list? I would love to hear!
Always make known food allergies BEFORE the meal is planned. If you’re having someone in your home simply ask, “Are there any food allergies I should know about?” Having someone with an allergic reaction is not pleasant. I remember many years ago when I only had three children. We invited a dear couple from Church over for a salad (this was many years ago before allergies were in epidemic proportions as today). The salad was not our side dish; it was our main course. It was full of yummy veggies, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Our guests began eating without any thought of what was in the salad and the table conversation continued. We were having a great evening of laughing and sharing when all of a sudden the husband began having difficulty breathing. As the hosts, we didn’t know what was happening at first. However, his wife quickly spotted the sunflower seeds her husband was deathly allergic to. The evening had to come to an abrupt end. He was taken to the emergency room where he was treated and released. We often teased about that moment in the years of friendship that followed but it was truly no laughing matter.
Combine efforts preparing the meal. When having others in your home for a meal it’s nice to have everything done so our guests can just come and enjoy. However, there are times that combining efforts are more than helpful rather, they are essential! When we know we have different eating habits than someone else it is nice to be able to bring food that is on the “okay” list to add to the table. If done with grace there is never any condemnation and instead it is a great way to introduce others to new ideas. The key is doing this with grace!
Prepare your children ahead of time. Joe and I have taught our children that it is grievous to the Lord for us to offend others. We can’t always help it, sometimes we offend others not even aware that we did. In those moments, when it is brought to our attention, we need to humbly ask for forgiveness. As far as eating goes, we have taught our children to eat what is presented before them without complaining and with appreciation. We did some home practice runs on this subject before they were ever in this situation publicly. I remember telling them, “Pretend you’re a missionary and this is all you have.” We had friends who were missionaries in Africa when our children were little. They would come back to the states from time to time and stay in our home, sharing stories and giving the children tips on how to eat without offending. My children still remember the story they were told one year as we talked about this topic of “eating without offending”. Our friends were sharing the Jesus film in some mountain tribes. Her husband was the pilot for the local missionaries and doctors. As they prepared to leave a tribal leader came to her with a gift, an old banana peel stuffed full with healthy termites! She thanked them for it and was going to just take it with her but the tribe insisted, “Eat it! It’s good!” She prayed as she took her first bite, “Lord I’ll get it down.. please keep it down!” The tribe cheered as she ate this gift they offered her. At that moment, the tribal leader asked them to stay and share more. Many gave their lives to the Lord that night. It was later learned that other missionaries had visited them and were also offered this gift before they left. However, instead of eating it, the tribe had witnessed her feeding it to a donkey before getting on the plane. This was a great insult to the tribe when they had truly offered what they felt was their best gift to give. Since hearing of this account, our family often says, “Would you eat termites for the Lord?” We remember that people and relationships are more important than the food we are eating. We can trust the Lord to help us get through the meal gracefully!
Start with a spoonful serving. We have often used the policy to take just a spoonful. Taking a spoonful helps avoid waste and also lets you test the flavor of a dish before you pile it on your plate. It also means that you aren’t wasting food that someone else has spent time and money to prepare for you. I can not tell you how many conversations we have had with our children on this topic. It is hard to see guests throw our hard work and money in the garbage without a care. We have had to pray for the Lord to help us not be offended that someone has been so careless with what we gave to them. Those moments also serve as great reminders for us to not be careless toward others and their hard work and money spent to prepare a meal for us.
Say and accept, “No thank you”. We don’t have to convert people to our eating habits, or make excuses for our eating decisions. We can simply say, “No, thank you” when someone offers us something we would rather not eat. As the hostesses, there is no need for us to feel like we have to give them something and then make a bigger issue than needed. We need to accept the “No, thank you” and say, “Is there anything else I could get you?” If not, then sit down with a smile and enjoy the evening of fellowship!
Those are just a few of the ideas I had to share, so tell me what tips can you add? I would love to hear!!
Mrs. Joseph Wood