A Different Kind of Meal Prep

Step right up, ladies and gents! Today only, we’re showing you how to make a month’s worth of freezer-friendly dinners in only two hours!

Meal prep is a fairly recent phenomenon consisting of planning, purchasing, cooking, and assembling large amounts of grub at once so that meals throughout the week lose the meltdown quotient for everyone involved. It’s not a complicated concept, but it can get pretty crazy.

Thanksgiving is upon us, which typically signals two things: tons of food, and quality time with family. 

Most people love the first part (food), but that second half (family) can be a bit of a mixed bag. I propose a new kind of meal prep for this time of year: girding our hearts with truth that will directly affect our demeanor around the table.* Literally, preparing ourselves for a particular meal.

This looks different for us all, and there’s no wrong way to do it. What works for me might shut you down, and vice versa. So let’s approach this process with an abundance of grace and give the Spirit plenty of elbow room.

It generally helps to start by identifying what kinds of feelings the family you’ll be around brings up in you. Is there shame? Anxiety? Anger? Hurt? Self-consciousness? (The more positive emotions need less attention here, so this is a safe chance to be brutally honest about your inner world.) Take a few minutes to explore and name your common relative-induced feels.

After jotting down your answers, think through the following questions for each one:

how does God view me in this? (example: He sees me as someone worth knowing rather than as a bore.)

how does God view (the person who brings up the feeling) in this? (example: He sees Great-Uncle Billy Bob as someone in desperate need of His grace. He knows this relative’s own haunted past which prompts such harsh judgments on others.)

is there something legitimate I need to repent of here? (example: I have been looking for a sense of significance and worth from this person rather than from the work of Jesus on my behalf. I have also harbored frustration toward G.U.B.B. for calling me boring and withholding his approval.)

what does my heart need to believe about this? (example: My significance is not on trial here. Jesus knows me to my toes, and He considered me worth sacrificing everything for. What He calls me matters far more than what G.U.B.B. says about me.)

what would moving forward with (the person) in love look like? (example: I can forgive the offense, empty my demands and expectations, engage fully, and be genuinely interested in this relative.)

This basically puts our emotions in their proper place, allowing them to point out deeper issues Jesus wants to work in but not letting them bully us into a particular rut.

Next, ponder the beauty of gospel promises that invite you back to the cross. Some of my favorites are that God is with me; that He makes all things new; that He is working for good; that He’s given me everything I need for life and godliness; that His perfection is credited to my account; that He’s bent on my complete deliverance; and that He won’t give up on me.

Then add in some song lyrics, passages, breath prayers, and physical reminders as needed. Love how a particular hymn eases your load? Listen to it on the drive over. Need a memory jogger for your trigger moments? Wear a special bracelet or doodle a word on your hand.

This kind of meal prep welcomes the Trinity—the Son who died for you, the Spirit inside of you, and the Father smiling over you—deeper into the corners of your life in anticipation of whatever Turkey Day may hold for you. No bulk chopping, mixing, baking, or broiling required. 

*These ideas really only apply to basic family dynamics. If you’re facing abuse of any kind, I’d highly recommend seeing a trusted counselor to put up safe boundaries before moving into heart issues.

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