Do you like to go out to lunch with friends?
After I retired, I ate out a lot.
A. Whole. Lot.
During one period, I repeatedly ran into our new minister at restaurants all over town while he was getting acquainted with church members.
One day, he said, “Dorothy, you must eat out every day. Everywhere I go, I see you.”
I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes when I laughingly quipped that was because I had a Lunch Ministry.
A MINISTRY OF LUNCHES
It’d be a big stretch to say I have a lunch ministry in the sense that I’m an all-wise counselor. I’m not. But in another sense, there are times, I’m a pretty good listener, and we all need a safe place to talk about what’s bothering us.
We learn which people are safe–which people will keep our confidences–by experience.
ARE YOU SAFE?
I wish I could say I’ve always been a safe listener, but sadly, I remember two specific instances in junior high when I let friends down after they confided in me by telling another friend. Looking back, I think it was because in both situations what I heard was too much for me to handle on my own.
But I should have gone to an adult instead of sharing it with a peer, who unfortunately passed it on to someone, who promised not tell but did–you know how that goes. Offering apologies afterward felt inadequate.
However, I learned from my failure. After seeing the pain I caused–and having borne the brunt of other people’s loose lips myself, becoming a trustworthy confidant became a lifelong pursuit for me.
God seems to show up when we honestly share our lives and faith over a simple meal. And although we rejoice at one another’s victories, I’ve come to see that it’s seldom our accomplishments that bind us together. More often, it’s when we dare to share our fears, failures, and pain that we form strong heart connections.
Through the years, I’ve been the recipient of encouragement and good advice as often as I’ve listened. Some of my most precious friendships grew from such times.
These days, I’m more likely to meet for coffee than go out to lunch. Oh, wait a minute–I did go out to eat twice this week and gathered for coffee once. So I’ll just say, it’s not what we consume or where we get together that counts as much as whether we offer one another a listening ear and compassionate heart. And I’m always up for praying for God’s answer to our problems.
What about you?
Do you like to go out to eat?
If you’re interested in doing lunch, give me a call.
The Lord God gives me the right words to encourage the weary.
Each morning he awakens me eager to learn his teaching;
5 he made me willing to listen and not rebel or run away.
Isaiah 50:4-5 (CEV)