My daughter’s room smells like bacon. The bathroom smells like whatever my cat just did in its litter box in the next room. And the living room? Well, thankfully it just smells like the air freshener plugged into the kitchen wall.
For some reason I have not figured out in the eight years since we moved into our small ranch, smells don’t stay where they’re supposed to in this house. I’ve just learned to expect the lingering aroma of dinner in my daughter’s bedroom, and suspicious smells in the bathroom are just as likely to have started in the office as anywhere.
The funny thing about this situation is that not only do smells – good and bad, for the record – migrate through walls or down the hall, but they also completely disappear from their rooms of origin. So while you might think my kitchen smells just as strongly of bacon as my daughter’s bedroom, you would be wrong. The kitchen smells like dishwasher detergent.
As I walked down the hall and noticed my house’s quirk [again] a few weeks ago, I started thinking. My house is a lot like my life.
I snap at my husband because I’m stressed out about a freelance project.
I cry as I watch a greeting card commercial because I had a fight with my husband.
I skip my workout because I stayed up late reading a novel . . . and snacking.
I ignore my daughter’s requests to play dolls because I’m tired . . . and want to check Facebook.
None of those things are directly related, and yet, they might seem connected on the surface. If you asked me, in the moment, I might say that I snapped at my husband because he forgot to tell me he’s leaving early for work. I might say that the commercial is extremely well-crafted and sentimental or that my workout is just too hard. I might even tell you that I simply don’t like to play dolls and my daughter needs to learn to play on her own anyway.
But in reality, the bad smells in my life – short temper, moodiness, laziness, misplaced priorities – are coming from somewhere else. They might show up in one relationship but be a result of a problem in another relationship. They might make one situation “smell,” but actually come from a completely different and separate situation altogether.
Confusion – or denial – over the cause of an emotional outburst isn’t the only time I see this “mystery smell” phenomenon in my life. It also happens with behaviors that I’m not proud of, with sin.
Sin creeps into our lives so quietly, so quickly – and then has the audacity to disguise itself as something else.
- I exchange my daily Bible reading for a few minutes flipping through a magazine or scrolling through Twitter, and I tell myself it’s because I need some time to unwind. (Not really. I know from [repeated] history that I stop craving time in the Word when I stop seeking God with all my heart.)
- I let days and then weeks go by without stepping on my treadmill, and I tell myself it’s probably better to just accept my body how it is anyway. (Not true! While I know that God loves me no matter what size my jeans are, I also know that treating my body well is a form of worship and stewardship that I’m seriously missing out on when I don’t exercise.)
- I poke fun at my husband as he tells a story at our small group, pointing out every detail he got wrong, and I tell myself that I’m just making sure everyone knows the truth. (Not exactly. I’ve forgotten [again] that God calls us to respect our husbands, and in my marriage, that includes staying quiet when he tells the story his way – and even laughing at his jokes [again].)
Do you have any bad smells in your life today? Is sin disguising itself or hiding under an explanation like the bacon smell hides in my house?