When I think of endurance, I don’t think about marathons or Olympic podiums or even the work of childbirth. I think of a woman making meatloaf. Flashy, I know.
Every week, an email slips into my inbox. Sometimes once, sometimes twice or three times, with almost the same subject line each time: Meals for the Lee Family. Meals for the Cooper Family. Meals for the Cruz family. I have 6,055 unread emails, but I rarely miss one of these. These emails are our church’s way of ensuring that families walking through difficult days don’t have to worry about dinner a few nights a week. Two faithful women hear all the needs and send out the call, and a large group of volunteers click a link to add their name and record the meal they’ll deliver.
While I can only manage to add a meal here and there, I can’t help clicking the links, even when I know I can’t contribute anything that week. It’s this tiny window into a hidden world, where each year hundreds of pairs of hands are quietly making meatloaves and lasagnas and chicken soup, delivering them to strangers or old friends alike. It gives me so much hope to click that link and see those names, each showing up with their chicken and potatoes again and again.
There’s an endurance to this kind of service, to doing the simple thing in love, to so many hands working together to carry each other in the midst of life’s hardest moments.
It isn’t a glorious kind of work, and most do it without documenting it in blogposts or taking Instagram evidence. There are a few who make meals week after week. There’s a group of friends who gathered one weekend to fill a freezer with extra meals. There are people like me who are lucky to make a few meals each year. But somehow, in this quiet, behind the scenes ministry, there’s always enough.
That’s not to say all our hospitality has to be hush-hush. Sometimes hospitality is on display for all the world to see. Grand gestures can inspire, elevate and make space at the table. And there is a place for that kind of living color service. In the seen places, we can speak truth and magnify the voices that stand in the margin. We can cry out for justice and speak the mercy we ourselves have received to our neighbors and this hurting world. Some of us are called to those out-loud, up-front places.
For a long time, though, these were the only places I valued hospitality. But I’m learning – from countless meatloaf-makers who show up in the unseen places, there’s an invitation for each of us in the quiet places, too. There is a kind of endurance to rallying together, to putting one foot in front of the other to meet the simple needs of those around us. We can lament and sit vigil when no words will suffice. We can love with prayers for the heart that’s grown too callused to hope. We can call the friend who has grown too weary to reach out. We can show up with a meal.
Maybe, in the long run, it matters less whether it’s from the mountaintop on brilliant display, or in the middle of the night on your knees. Maybe it matters most that we serve with sincerity, that we endure together, whether we’re making the meatloaf or receiving it.
I’d love to hear, what’s your go-to meal to bring another family, or one you’ve loved receiving? Are there ways that serving together has produced endurance in your life? Have you been on the receiving end of that steady, un-flashy love?