We are in the throes of remodeling and preparing our house to sell. As we continue to work towards relocation to another country, we are selling just about everything, even the dining table. We are all experiencing a roller coaster of emotions as a result reminiscing about memories in this house. The dining table is no exception. You see, we had it for almost 26 years and all four children grew up around it. (I’m not tearing up, you are!!).
I put it up for sale, it sold in an hour and was out the door within a day. A week later, I still feel a small hole in my heart about why that mattered so much. Here’s why…
One of my son’s mentioned that “having family time means sitting around the table together and eating a meal!”. He said it gave him a strong sense of belonging. Again, I’m not tearing up, you are!! He said this in reference to observing his father and I (as empty nesters) eating in the living room couch comfortably. Instead of getting defensive, I tried to see it from his perspective.
As we were growing our family, we believed it was especially important to have dinners together every night. Statistics say that “family dinners provide security and belonging for children”. (Sorry I can’t remember where I read that). The resource went on to say that if children experienced at least five times a week of family dinners, they were more likely to experience emotional health in their later years. I know that in some situations that is just not possible because of the structure of the family and the disparities those families experience. Before you get upset or defensive with me, let me also say that family dinners are not the only way to build security and belonging into our children, there are many others. But I will go out on a limb and say that most of us are just making different choices to not allow it.
Our conversation with our son allowed us a deeper connection because it moved us towards considering his sense of security and belonging as an adult. He reflects the statistic based on the above information.
That’s what this is really about. Setting the table. Not from a casual to formal style but is your table a place where others feel like they fit and belong?
Is your table a place where others feel safe? Included? Encouraged? Empowered? Isolated? Forgotten? Valued? Devalued? What else?
I grew up in a home where we did not sit together for mealtime. I wanted a different narrative for our family. For our children. So, I had to make different choices.
Maybe your table is actually the dinner table. Do people feel invited to participate? Do they feel safe and included? Are they being nourished and desire to return?
Maybe your table is your culture, where you are so proud that there is not room for anyone who is cultured differently. Will they be invited, included, accepted, valued?
Maybe your table is your story, where you make room for others to step in and there is mutual sharing. Do they feel accepted or judged? Do they feel like an equal? Are you approachable or prickly?
Maybe your table is your marriage, are you being intentional with your spouse? Are you being inviting? How are you showing hospitality to your spouse? In what ways are you serving each other?
Maybe your table is your faith community. Do others feel welcome? Do they stay? Do they feel like they fit and belong even though they appear different than the majority culture? Are their cultural needs being expressed/met/ignored? Are the expected to assimilate?
Maybe your table is in your workplace. Do you feel like a contributor? Do you feel ignored or devalued? Are you authoritative or authoritarian in your leadership style?
What does your table look like? Do people feel like they will “fit and belong”?
Take a look at the picture and notice the backyard? There is a whole world out there.
Our backyard is also full of memories. From family water fights, to time outs to gatherings of celebration. I want you to remember that as you set your table, consider the opportunity to see that “there’s a whole world out there” that could be full of fun if you let it.
As we re-enter the workforce and our communities after this pandemic, there is a whole world out there that is looking for connection, acceptance, love, while many still question if they fit and belong.
What will you do? Don’t rush it, take time to consider how you might set the table differently?
Will you make room at the table for me? I am here to help!!
I host a workshop that helps promote inclusion for anyone different than you and I also coach individuals as they embark on their own personal work.
Please feel free to reach out through the contact form at the website www.seemaglobalconsulting.com if you are interested in tools that will help you “set the table” differently…for success.
Here’s to GROWING FORWARD TOGETHER as we gather around our own tables