Three years without sex can make you extremely sober-minded and on the day before my wedding I was as focused as ever, set on a simple mission: to buy potato chips.
My husband is hungry every three hours. I don’t fear having a newborn because I know exactly what it’s like to be woken from your sleep when someone thinks their stomach is empty. When hungry, he can barely function. His head hangs low, he closes his eyes, and he makes faces like he’s constipated. So on our wedding night, I wanted to make sure we had enough fruit, chips, soda, and turkey slices on hand in case he felt like his gas tank was on E. I wanted premium—scratch that, I wanted diesel fuel—with no hiccups. So I fed him.
The feeding continues, but with a slight twist—and it’s time I confess:
I’ve been putting cayenne pepper in all of his food.
Cayenne pepper in his chicken. Sprinkles of cayenne pepper in his rice when he’s not looking. And to make sure it’s gone into everything he consumes, I put a little bit into our olive oil. He coughed the other day after taking a bite, and I slowly turned my eyes toward him expecting him to bust me. But he just reached for his Dr. Pepper and kept chewing. Phew.
Even still, he has no idea I’ve done this. And I’m not sorry. I did it for us.
I came home three weeks ago, and walked into our guest bedroom to find my flip flops. I opened the door to a reality I wasn’t prepared for. There he was, plopped in the center of the air mattress we’ve furnished it with, with papers for interviews spread thick around him. He was wearing basketball shorts, he hadn’t shaved. He was handsome, but he looked tired. He looked up and gave me a lazy smile, forcing himself to ask how my day was. I made up a lie about it being “just ok” when really it had been pretty great. I apologized for interrupting his study session, and then stood with my back against the door after closing it. My head hung low, I closed my eyes, and I probably made faces like I was constipated.
And that’s when I decided that we needed a kick. Both of us were living a bland life, just existing day to day, waiting for good news to make our phones ring. Our house felt like a dormitory during finals’ week.
So I spiced things up. You probably couldn’t even tell if you tasted the food, but I guarantee there was at least a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in it. As it turns out, cayenne pepper actually lowers blood pressure and in general reduces stress. He studied law firm websites and the Bible; I prayed and dumped cayenne. And man, those dishes were some of the best I’ve ever made.
Henry Miller has a funny quote that goes:
“Americans can eat garbage, provided you sprinkle it liberally with ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment …”
Well Henry, you were right. That studying/praying/spicy mix made the waiting on God ‘taste’ that much better.
And it worked. We are cookin’ folks. The good news rang our phones, the job starts sooner than we could have hoped or guessed. And the relief has almost washed away the memory of how tough some periods over the last few months have been.
Would I have chosen to start our marriage like this, with tight budgets, stress, and deadlines? No.
But if the past four months has taught us anything, it’s that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And makes you trust harder. And makes you believe God is bigger. Than anything. At 30, I am still being shown again and again that God can be trusted with our biggest cares. One day, I’m going to learn how to cast them on Him the moment they show up, instead of waiting until I feel too weak to do so. Plus, these situations keep giving me topics to teach on, and for that, I’m grateful. Can’t sign up for the big leagues until you learn how to hit some home runs, now can you?
Henry Miller also said:
“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”
If overwhelmed, take Henry’s advice and change your thinking. Then take mine and buy some cayenne pepper.
To Aymee: Thank you for being there. For just– being there. To listen. To return text messages. For never forgetting to ask how we’re doing. For laughing when nothing is funny, which in turn makes us laugh. We love you more than you know. We’ll see you for Christmas.