Wise women have said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I believe it.
When Nate and I got married, he came to me from a childhood of enjoying the creative cooking of his mother, Lois. She had a lavish cook book collection and used it often. As a newlywed, I realized I’d have to learn to cook if I was going to make my man happy.
Fortunately there was an effective buffer between Lois’ high-class dinners and my incompetence in the kitchen: university food.
Nate’s memory of those home-cooked meals dimmed as he ate in college dining halls from 1963 until we married in 1969, and his expectations were wonderfully low.
After 40 years of cooking thousands of meals for him, I remember only one word of criticism. I’d made a teriyaki stir fry, one of his favorites, but the sauce had turned out thin. Because it wouldn’t stick to the veggies or meat, I used a tip from Mom, adding a bit of corn starch to thicken the juices.
When Nate came to the table, he saw what we were having and said, “Mmmmm. Stir fry!”
We all sat down, heaped food on our plates and dug in. Nate had already eaten three forkfuls by the time I took my first. “My word!” I said. “What’s wrong with this stuff?”
That’s when Nate’s criticism came. “I kept trying, because I couldn’t believe it tasted so awful. What did you do to it?”
“I have no idea,” I said, walking my plate toward the disposal. That’s when I noticed the corn starch on the counter. Unfortunately, it was really baking soda. How I’d mixed up an orange box with a white can I’ll never know. But after we’d all enjoyed frozen pizza, we had a good laugh over my error.
Although I never became a skilled cook, I did learn one valuable principle preparing meals for a big family each day. More important than flavor, smell, ingredients or presentation was volume. Everyone was happier with a full stomach, and filling them up became my #1 priority.
Nutritionists might label that eating-suicide saying, “The food pyramid should be #1.” But my experience was that not having enough was worse than having only some of a perfectly balanced meal.
This principle works well with our spiritual eating, too. We can hold out for a gourmet meal: a peaceful place to read the Bible, a notebook to write in, a pen that works and a set of commentaries. We can wait to pray until we’re sure of uninterrupted time. But if we do, we’ll always be on the edge of spiritual starvation without enough to eat.
God is well aware of our fast-paced lives but creatively delivers spiritual nourishment as our appetites for him grow.
Scripture refers to its words as milk (for beginners) and meat (for the more advanced) and encourages us to taste it. So apparently the old adage does have some truth to it: the way to a person’s true heart is indeed through the stomach.
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27)