We had been through a winter, spring, and summer since my wife’s death. The kids and I were craving her cooking. It was fall, and that called for chili.

My convictions about chili run deep. The first rule is: no beans. The second: chili is best made with steak, not ground beef. On the matter of no beans there must be no compromise. The type of meat is a preference.

So, I double-checked the recipe and made sure to add the ingredients to my grocery list: onion, green pepper, garlic, beef bouillon …

You should know that my wife was a home economist. She never bought pre-cut stew meat. Instead, she always insisted on buying a roast and cutting it up herself in order to save money. Since I was doing this on my own now, I was tempted to buy the stew meat. But, no. I would do this the right way. Her way.

I could almost feel her

Once home from the store, I began the prep—chopping veggies, measuring seasonings, cutting up the steak …

And crying.

The pepper and onion sizzling in the pan created an olfactory sensation that went straight through my nose, dove into my memory, and stuck a landing in my heart. Suddenly, I was back to last fall. And she was there.

She was chopping the veggies and cutting the meat. Stirring the pot, smiling, and quietly singing. She did that when she was in the kitchen.

Cooking was sacred to her, doing something she loved for people she loved. The sounds and smells always pulled me out of my office and into the kitchen. I loved seeing her there.

But she wasn’t there anymore. The smells deceived me.

I shook it off and went back to work, cutting the steak into cubes and dropping them in the pan.

An ugly realization

Cutting the roast was harder than it should have been because the knife was dull. And that’s when the crying turned ugly. The early tears were sadness. But these were regret. I was lamenting a missed opportunity.

How many times had she asked me to sharpen those knives? And what would it have cost me to do it? A few minutes. A little effort. Not much at all.

But how much would it have meant to her?

It would have said: I hear you. I love you. I want to make your life a little easier. You planned the menu. You watched the budget. You clipped the coupons (digital coupons were not yet a thing) and made sure to hit the store on double-coupon day. You knew I loved your chili. You wanted to make me happy. To make us happy.

And all you asked of me was to sharpen the knives. I missed the opportunity. You didn’t nag. Just asked. Many times. And every time I intended to do it. I really meant to sharpen them. But I never did.

A missed opportunity.

And so I stood, the meat only partially cut because the knives were dull and my hand hurt. I’m sure hers had too.

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Sharpening knives

Brothers, whatever your version of sharpening the knives is, please do it. Today. Sometimes it really is the little things that make the biggest difference.

Being faithful to your wife means more than “forsaking all others” or turning off the porn. It’s not just about what you don’t do, it’s also about what you do. And sometimes the little things are what you need to do most. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much . . .” (Luke 16:10).

Do the little things for her, and keep doing them. Say thank you, hold her hand, look in her eyes when she talks, clear the table, open the door. Call her. Text her. Do the little things. Don’t call attention to them, just do them. Don’t miss a big opportunity to do a little thing.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Grissom. All rights reserved.