Tuesday night was cheeseburger night. Such a meal is a bit of a delicacy with our scaled back grocery budget these days, and after a typical draining day I could not wait to slather my patty with mayo, top it with some tomatoes and ketchup, and sink my teeth into my cheesy reward. Mmm-mmm-MMMMM!
Just as I finished molding the last raw patty, I heard a knock at the door. It was two of the girls, sisters Catherine and Carmen*, here to report an important development in their frog collecting activities. I was barely able to get a word in to invite them inside, and listened to their breathless stories of their big afternoon as I cooked up the burgers on a stovetop skillet. I noticed that they were making themselves comfortable on our living room couch, glanced down at the sizzling burgers in front of me and realized:
There wasn’t enough for all of us.
Even though they’ve been spending 2 – 8 hours a day over here, they often drift back to their house or to Riley’s house for meals. It didn’t even occur to me to buy enough meat just in case they’d be here, since they only end up eating dinner with us a few times a month.
“I wish mom was home, ” I overheard 10-year-old Catherine say to Carmen. “I’d really like to show her the house I build for Henry [the newest frog she found].”
Their mom, a great lady and single mother doing her best to get by, has had to travel a lot for work this summer, sometimes being gone for a week at a time. Their grandmother has been taking care of them, but she was out for the night on Tuesday. If I didn’t invite them to dinner I’d be sending them home to an empty house. I looked at them, then back to the skillet, where the cheese slices I’d placed on the burgers were just beginning to melt.
I had a dilemma: there were not enough cheeseburgers for all of us. We had one extra (that my husband and I were planning to split), but there were two guests. I’d been looking forward to this meal for a couple of days. The way I saw it, my choices were:
- Apologetically tell them they couldn’t eat with us.
- Invite them to eat, but tell them that since I didn’t know they were coming there weren’t burgers for them, and offer to make them a peanut butter sandwich instead (pretty much the only other food we had on hand).
- Pull my husband aside as soon as he got home, frantically whine about it, and ultimately ask him to sacrifice his burger even though he’d also been really looking forward to the meal.
- Set the table with places for them, and discreetly make myself a peanut butter sandwich as if that’s how I planned it all along.
What I find interesting about this dilemma is that I found a battle raged in my brain between the “new convert” part of me and the “been a Christian for a while” part of me:
The new convert in me asked: “What would Jesus do? Would your spiritual heroes, great Christian role models like Therese of Lisieux, Francis of Assisi, and Frances of Rome, give up their cheeseburgers?” The answer was undoubtedly yes. The way to show Christ to these girls (and to my family) would be to cheerfully set a place for them at the table, asking only what they would like on their burgers, and happily make myself a peanut butter sandwich.
The part of me who’s been a Christian for a while now and is maybe a little less, uhh, zealous these days said: “Come on, they came over totally unexpectedly. Jesus wants you to have the cheeseburger! Ask them if they want to split the extra one or something. They have to understand, you can’t feed them a nice dinner with five seconds notice! Nobody would expect you to do that.”
I hesitantly asked if they wanted to stay for dinner, secretly hoping that maybe they’d say no and my dilemma would be solved. They shyly said yes, seeming relieved that I’d asked. I stood there in my kitchen, my stomach growling as I looked from the sizzling burgers to my little friends in the living room, trying to decide what to do.
I’d love to know: If you found yourself standing there in that moment, what would you do? What do you think would be the right path in that situation?
I’ll tell you how it actually played out in the comments tomorrow.
* Not their real names.
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