Don’t Upstage the Chicken.

My friend, Erika, and I stumbled upon a little Nashville jewel known as Monells last night.   We landed on Monells because of a recommendation via twitter and because we were sick and tired of driving around in the rain.

We had no idea what to expect. Except that I heard they had the best skillet fried chicken ever. That was enough to know.

So we walk in. The hostess greets us and takes us immediately to a ginormous table for like 10. We sit down – there is already food on the table: Cucumber salad, coleslaw, biscuits, banana pudding, etc., etc., etc … and then she tells us to start eating. Monells is family style.

Within minutes, two more guests are seated at our large table right next to us. Super friendly locals. And a couple minutes later, a couple nearly my parents age – from Arizona. All four of these folks were so nice. And when they found out it was our first time, they warned us with Pace yourself. There is a lot of food coming.

And a lot of food did start coming: Vegetarian lasagna, pot roast, collard greens, corn pudding, white beans, mashed potatoes, gravy … honestly, I can’t remember it all.

And then, finally the chicken. It was delicious. Lived up to it’s reputation. But honestly, I was so distracted by the experience … the chicken got upstaged.

When Erika and I left – we talked about the weirdness of eating fried chicken. And pot roast. And lasagna. At the same time. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Monells. And I adored the experience sitting with people I didn’t know – and being coached through the meal.

But the whole experience was foreign. We definitely felt like newbies. Clueless.

I’m glad I felt like that. Because in my everyday life, I don’t often feel so … out of place. And Monells reminded me of what it feels like to feel kinda out of place. Rumpled up. And unadjusted.

Monells reminded me that lots of people feel like that every day.

Especially when they’re coming to church. Or coming back to church.

Sometimes we (pastor’s wife here …) get so comfortable with each other. And with our experience. And with our reputation. And with all the programs on the table … that we forget about the people. The ones that got a recommendation and stumbled in from the rain because they were tired. And hungry.

I think it’s a good reminder, you know?

Don’t upstage the chicken.