There’s a lot I’ve been learning lately. About adulthood, community, friendship, hard work, and God. Living in an old house with 5 other women, where we host anywhere from 30-50 people weekly, has been one of the more educational experiences of my life. There has been loads of laughter, a few tears, lots of prayer, and a fair amount of screams due to the perks of living in an old house (think rodents, sewage back up, snaking the drains…but those are all stories for another time).
Monday night at my house we hosted our monthly young women’s group for the church. Usually this group is geared towards high school and college age girls, but because of the holiday week we opened it up to women of all ages and coined the night “gals-giving.”
Because the house ebbs and flows with who lives in it there is an assortment of stuff that gets left behind when people move out. This worked in our benefit this week as someone had left a 16-pound quality, organic, local turkey in the freezer! “Gals-giving” seemed like the most appropriate way to finally use that thing.
What seemed like a brilliant idea, cooking this turkey, turned out to be one of the more stressful things I have done in my life. Ok…that’s exaggerating a bit. But dang, handling 16 pounds of raw meat and hosting 28 people that depend on that meat tasting delicious and not dried-out and overdone (the way I usually cook my meat when I cook it for myself because I am that paranoid about it being underdone) was a stretching experience for my perfectionist self. If you are at all familiar with the enneagram personality type that is trending right now, all the other ones (“the perfectionist”) give a holla.
This is where I owe a huge shout out to my house-mate, Grace, and her mom who, on a Facetime call, was the real MVP and walked us through how to prep this hunk of meat. No tears in this process, but lots of laughs and some screams. Sorry, but what the heck are giblets and why do they leave them in there if you’re just going to throw them out anyways? Call it an excuse, but I blame the American system of quick, convenient, grocery store food for not preparing us to stick our hands up the butt of a raw turkey. Grace and I came to know Patty the Fatty (yes, we named the bird) really well that night. A bit too well for my comfort level.
Grace and I were proud of the work we put into prepping the feast. All that had to be done the next day was rub some spices on it and throw it in the oven. Boom! Adulting. Feeling like a real woman.
Until we realized no one was going to be home the next day to put the turkey in the oven. Everyone in our home had work or school and was tied up until evening. Little details you learn to think through when cooking a giant bird. I’ve been living of the poor college-student diet of canned tuna, lunchmeat, and beans for my protein. So, in my defense, I was not mentally prepared for this.
This is where I owe a huge shout out to our friend Justin, who was able to stop by the house in the afternoon and put Patty in the oven.
I’m nearing the end of this rant about the first turkey I’ve cooked, and I promise I’m getting somewhere with this story.
In this process it struck me how special it is to live in a community that loves God and loves one another.
Community is sometimes messy, it can be inconvenient, and often times it’s a learning process. But community also one of the greatest joys, support systems, and gifts from God in our lives.
We wound up having 28 women for “gals-giving” to eat a mediocre turkey (yeah, I ended up overcooking it and slightly demolishing it because carving a turkey is another learning process of its own), a random assortment of side dishes, and an abundance of desserts (because we’re women and really…is there such a thing as too much dessert?)
Despite the stress…I mean adventure…with the turkey, I had a moment to breathe, and I thought my heart might just burst with fullness. You know those moments in life when you literally cannot help but smiling? As I looked around my home and saw 28 women (ranging from 7th grade – 30 years old) I was overcome with thankfulness and gratitude. I’ve known what it’s like to feel really alone and not have any community. And it’s really hard. I thank God for this family he has brought me into, in a small town in southwest Michigan.
We can’t do life, or I believe we can’t do life to the fullest, without community. A community that is filled with the love of God, one that stands by you through your mistakes and learning, one that will inconvenience themselves to help you in your need, and that will be more excited about sharing time with you than sharing great food.
Great food is a blessing from God (amen!?), but the people that we surround ourselves with is the greater blessing.
That night I had my own translation of Proverbs 15:17, “Better is a dinner of vegetables and herbs where love is present, than a fattened ox served with hatred.”
Better is an overcooked, not beautifully presented turkey where the love of others is present, than the best meal you’ve ever tasted where you’re alone and without community.
This Thanksgiving, I am incredibly grateful for the community God has brought me into. I am grateful that I don’t have to be the perfect host, the perfect adult, or the perfect cook – but that I get to love people well and be loved well in return.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May you love your people well and be loved well in return.