Words of Hope: The Antidote for Sullenness

I was talking to a woman about our family’s mealtime conversation and daily spotlighting. She looked skeptical. “What if you had a sullen child who didn’t want to respond?” she asked. 

I was surprised for a minute. I pictured our table and the joy that is there. Every student that came over to our home to spend time with our daughters often had a bit of hesitation but once they joined in, they were all in. Many of the girls’ friends would request mealtime conversation. There isn’t sullenness because it’s difficult to be sullen. The table is alive and more full of life than sullenness and the “joy” of being obstinate. Alienation pales in comparison to feeling fully loved.  

I thought of asking, “What is stronger in your home…fun, laughter, connection, meaningful conversation, and joy or boredom, tediousness, bitterness, distance, and irritation?” The table magnifies the feelings of the family. It’s not the table that elicits these emotions but what reveals them.  

When my girls would be sullen at the table at times, that was good news because it showed to me there was work to be done in our relationship. There was a discovery to be made. If I had been rude earlier and didn’t ask forgiveness and take responsibility, sullenness would be an appropriate response. Who wants to be in friendship with someone that hurts you and pretends that all is well? 

The mealtime conversation is a gift not only for the fun and laughter it brings but also for the inside look on how the health of the relationships around the table. I am thankful Dad used the table as a sacred place to love more deeply. 

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. – Romans 12: 9-10