I got to prove the Lord’s instruction one evening not long after that late night movie. I cook out of Gourmet Cookbooks, and I never cook the same thing twice. John didn’t like that; although he never said so directly. He just made comments like, “Did you pull this out of the sewer?” or “What kind of road kill are we eating tonight?” He got the kids laughing this way, and they would try to top his sarcasm. They were hilarious, those three, except that I enjoyed cooking, and I went to great lengths to cook a good meal, and so I was wounded by their antics. More than once I shed tears over their behavior. Often John went into the bathroom and spit his food into the toilet. The kids wanted to do the same, but I wouldn’t let them.
One night, maybe I wasn’t giving him the reaction he wanted, John went to the extreme of gagging and emptying his mouth back into his plate. I was standing by the kitchen sink, and I remember looking at him and thinking, “In comparison to God’s love for me, this is nothing.” In fact, for the first time, I wanted to laugh.
Containing my desire to laugh at John, I went over and pulled up a chair beside him. The kids were watching saucer-eyed. I said, “John, it’s only food. It’s not poison. It’s not garbage. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s not going to do anything, except nourish your body.”
He got up, took his plateful of food and threw it down the garbage disposal. He said to the kids, “You can do that, too.”
They looked at me. I said, “Go ahead. But no one is eating anything else tonight.” The kids both finished their dinners. The whole world that God wanted me to love started right there in my family room. If I could do it there, I could do it anywhere. Loving them meant standing up for what is right.
Soon afterwards, when preparing to attend the theatre, I learned that loving them also meant looking to the Lord. John and I had season tickets for the San Francisco theatrical troupe, and each play meant an early dinner, a dash across the Bay Bridge, and parking in the congested lot in time to make the opening curtain. On one such evening, sitting at the dinner table, John observed J.J. and Jo and said, “Who taught these kids their table manners? They’re disgusting.”
The two of them had their elbows on the table and were slouched against their hands, their heads almost in their plates. I said, “Your father is right, you guys. Sit up at the table.” They glared at me and reluctantly sat up.
John pushed his plate away. “I can’t eat this slop before sitting through a play. I’ll have indigestion.”
I picked up his plate, took it to the sink, scraped the food into the disposal, rinsed the plate and put it in the dishwasher. Then I started washing the pots and pans. “Do you have to make so much noise?” John roared. “I teach my dishwashers not to make any noise when they wash up. It’s just as easy not to make noise as it is to make noise.”
“Sorry,” I intoned and tried to quiet my ways.
“Where are the tickets for tonight?” John asked as if they should materialize on the table.
“They’re in my purse.” I replied, having come to the table to collect the rest of the dishes.
“They should be in my pocket.” He tapped his shirt pocket.
Before leaving the house, I took the tickets, put them in John’s shirt pocket, and followed him to the car. During that short walk, I said in my heart, “Father, he doesn’t like the way I do my job.”
I heard the voice of God booming in my ear, “I like the way you do your job!” I started looking to the Father after that, to see if He liked what I was doing and became amazed at how often I saw His pleasure in me.