Feed the hungry. That’s a corporal work of mercy. And during this season of my life, it’s how I’m building the church.This came back to my mind a few days ago. There was a planned power outage, and since husband Kevin works at home, and needs a computer for his work, and therefore couldn't work, he decided to go shopping. In our rural area, "going shopping" means an hour trip to Costco or WinCo to stock up the garage freezer and the pantry.
Food is my boys’ love language and I continue to be amazed at the difference it makes in our home. On those magical days when the boys come home to find the larders full, I can sense the difference.
Psychologically, I don’t quite understand it. Maybe they feel secure, maybe they feel at peace. Perhaps it all speaks to that innate hunter/gatherer aspect of a male personality, but that wouldn’t totally explain things because with that theory they would be the ones out shopping.
Kevin has traditionally been the actual hunter/gatherer here because for a long time I was the primary caretaker for toddlers and medically fragile children and it made more sense for him to do the grueling trip and cruising of the aisles. He can keep prices in his head and even do a quick $/lb type calculation on the wing, while for me it takes longer and doesn't go well with boys being attracted towards the candy aisle.
Anyway, we have had a system in place for close to a decade and a half now where when Dad pulls in with an SUV-load of groceries, all the kids go out and unload them and put them away. It is about the closest our family ever comes to automated regularity. The car drives up, every kid in the house piles outside and starts hauling groceries.
Nowadays, "all the kids" means Kieron, Aidan and Paddy. But it still happens. This is one chore where (1) no one has to be reminded (2) no one complains. It's always been somewhat of a mystery to me and still is.
But now I am wondering if some of Rachel's musings could help explain it. Some ideas that come to mind:
(1) This literal "bringing home the bacon" strikes an innate responsive chord in them. ... wakes up their inner hunter/gatherer.
(2) It is something innately and directly worthwhile. They go, they see, they conquer. The food goes right from the car to the kitchen counter to the larder. It is subdued and prepared. It allows them to use their strength and see, in return, a tangible result.
(3) It is about FOOD. And food is a love language; it speaks to the heart of boys.
Rachel also mentioned something that runs straight to the heart of boys -- the favored Bringing Home of Treats.
Husband Kevin is very good about bringing home a couple of food items that are more "for fun". Probably most of us have our memories stocked with a few stories from the Little House books or elsewhere, where the parents bring home a couple of treats, like sugar sticks, along with the basic staples when they come back from a trip "to town".
Does anyone have the Pathway Readers around the house? These storybooks transcend the "reader" genre. They are about Amish kids and often involve a character trait, but in my opinion aren't sappy or over-heavy-handed like some moral tales. In one story I remember, a boy is aggrieved because his parents have come back from shopping with ONLY basics, no extra treat. He complains, and his father tells him that the basics really are the treat -- that he is blessed because he has plenty to eat of nourishing food. He shouldn't get annoyed because his parents didn't bring home any extra.
I know I said these tales aren't overly heavy handed, and the way I've told this one sounds like it is. But trust me. It stuck in my mind because of course, we are like this with God sometimes. We complain because we don't get the perks, because life has a few difficult parts, and forget to acknowledge that breathing and eating and being sheltered are really, really good things.
Still, what Rachel says is true. There is something about a Treat that speaks to a child's heart. The treat doesn't have to be huge. Laura Ingalls and her siblings were thrilled by candy sticks at Christmas. But treats seem to connotate plenty and abundance. God does this, after all. "Our cups overflow" -- overflowing cups might seem wasteful to a thrifty farm family, but there is something about the occasional extra that is like honey to the heart. In that respect, even though the Amish father was right in teaching his son to have a grateful heart, the boy was on to something too, even if reacting badly. He was recognizing that treats have a language of their own.
The other reason that the story has stuck in my mind is that none of my kids has ever complained about what we brought home. And it's not that my kids never complain. And it's not that they don't get as thrilled about fun food as any other growing boys. Sometimes they express happiness if they see one of their favorite foods come out of the cooler or grocery bags. But they just don't express disappointed expectations.
Again, I wonder if it's because of that food as a love language thing. Maybe they feel like acting disappointed would be like telling Dad he was a failure as a hunter-gatherer and that just seems to infringe too much on the relationship. There seems to be an element of good-sportsmanship there, of loyalty to the father. I am only guessing based on observation. But it seems like a good trait to me. If their attitude to the groceries reflects their attitude towards God's providence, I hope they will be joyful about the "treats" but grateful and content with the sufficiencies.