I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I’m a Jen Hatmaker fangirl. We’re BFFs; she just doesn’t know it yet. I had never heard of Jen until I joined a small group a few years ago. We had finished our first book study together, when one of the girls mentioned “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” We spent seven weeks together, fasting from our Uptown Dallas lifestyles, and it rocked my world.
Jen’s most recent book “For the Love” finally made it to my door last week, and I read over half of it in one sitting. This post is part of Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.
In her chapter “Hope for Spicy Families,” Jen categorizes people as either sweet or spicy.
I think it’s safe to say Bill and I are spicy.
There was never any hope for sweetness in us. We’re loud, (sometimes) dramatic, and intense. It’s just who we are. In Jen’s words, “We don’t really ‘do gentle.'” We go all out, whether we’re working or playing or just hanging out — do or do not; there is no try. Bill comes from an Irish family full of lawyers, and I come from a long line of tiny sassy feminists. Our wedding party had EIGHT GINGERS. That’s a lot of spice on one altar.
Spicy is good. In fact, some spicy foods can actually improve your health. Spicy speeds up the metabolism, produces endorphins, clears up stuffy sinuses, and can even help with digestion. But sometimes, when you have too much of a good thing, spicy can leave you with inflamed ulcers, heartburn, eyes watering, lying on the floor in a puddle of your own snot, begging for a glass of milk.
When did Bill and I figure out we’re a spicy family? Maybe it was when Bill told me that someone described me as “sweet,” and we both burst into laughter. Or maybe it was while we were playing a board game on our honeymoon, and Bill played the ONE CARD that caused me to lose when I was just about to win. That was the first time Bill saw me lose my temper. I felt my face get hot and my blood pressure rising to an ungodly level when he held his hand up two inches from my nose and said, “High five.” My response was, “I’m going to high five your FACE,” as I stormed upstairs. The Colliers never claimed to be a peaceful people.
Or maybe it was when we moved to Kansas. Bill was driving the 20 ft. box truck, while I followed in our little blue Honda Accord. We had been on the road for a good 10 hours, and I desperately needed a bathroom break, so I gave him a call, requesting to stop at the next available location. He pulled over at the next exit and turned right.
About 3 minutes down a dirt road and still no sign of a gas station, I called him again. “Turn around right now; we’re in Texas Chainsaw Massacre territory!”
Bill stopped and made the best three point turn on a country road in a box truck I’d ever seen in my life and headed back toward the interstate. I had no intentions of doing a three point turn, so I made a wide U-turn and found myself halfway into the ditch of a corn field. I called Bill again. “I’m stuck. Come back.”
Another seamless three point turn in a box truck, and he was back, in the ditch, pushing the car back on the road. Of course, words were exchanged, tempers flared, and by the time I was out of the ditch, I was so upset that I sped off back toward the interstate without waiting on Bill.
I really had to pee.
And Bill had to do another three point turn.
Being in a spicy family is a lot of fun. We laugh and play and do life extremely. We love fiercely and loudly, and in the words of Katy Perry, we’re hot and cold. Never in the middle. We’re intense and competitive and passionate. Having spice in our lives puts the fire under our butts to get stuff done and to care deeply about people and the world.
Spicy people with a purpose do something like establishing non-profits like Orphan’s Heroes, that help children rise above adversity by providing education, housing, and support for children who have been abused, orphaned, or sold into slavery. They build water wells, provide community health programs, rescue children from abusive situations, and help give dignity back to the least of these.
Spicy people with a purpose know that they are the salt of the earth, and they figure out ways to make the world a little bit tastier.
Jesus was really sweet sometimes. He invited children near; he cared for the sick and spent time with women in their homes; he even described himself as a mother hen. But there were a lot of times that Jesus was spicy. I mean, he stood up against the darkest forces the world could throw at him and conquered Death itself.
That’s the kind of spice that can heal the world.
But spicy can also be harmful. Sometimes I say things I don’t mean for the sake of being sarcastic. I get worked up too easily, and sometimes my eyes roll to the back of my head a little to quickly. Competition gets in the way of community. As time goes on, I am slowly getting better at estimating just how much spice is necessary and desired. I’ve learned to let go of the little things and to laugh when Bill beats me in a board game. I’ve also learned to do three point turns even when I don’t think they’re necessary.
Spicy doesn’t have to be brash, offensive, or defensive. When seasoned with grace, mercy, and purpose, spicy can bring healing to ourselves, those around us, and the world.
May we all be just a little bit spicy.