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?Leave a Comment
Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) says
Wise words indeed! Thank you for sharing.
jody mcnatt says
with five kids and a small farm of pets, we too, know about smells. and about short tempers and impatience and not enough time. we know about fingerprints on the glass and footprints on the berber and thumbprints in the frosting. life is so messy. a beautiful mess, to be sure. i am so thankful for the sweet aroma of Christ which lingers…which covers…which cleans us up. thank you for your words this morning mary carver — i just woke up to a sink full of teenage-late-night-dishes…and they, too, smell!
Robin Dance ~ PENSIEVE says
You’re so good at making application we can all relate to. You take the practical and every day and help us see it through the lens of Christ. Thank you.
As I was reading (and considering the scents of my life and home) my mind wandered to Ephesians 5:2 ~ “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
I wanna smell like Him :).
Robin, thanks for your reply. I’m well aware of the often funky and misplaced smells in my life, however, the vs you added (Eph 3:20) actually gives me “the answer” and a place to put my focus. Instead of getting stuck in all the ways I mess up, I can again return to Jesus and His perfect love for me. It is from that place I have the supernatural strength to offer myself (again) to Him AND to my family in full-out, abandoned love.
“I know from [repeated] history that I stop craving time in the Word when I stop seeking God with all my heart.” in the mornings i read teh bible before i get on teh computer, but i will admit here in public that sometimes it feels like a chore to get out of the way before i hit the fun stuff. and here you show me the root…..great post.
Oh, goodness – I am sitting here at my kitchen table reading these words and the realization is washing over me that I do this everyday. I transplant my emotions (good or bad) from one situation to the next and there are days when I grab that black crayon and color all over my life. And the part about “craving the Word”…sigh. This is so true. I desperately want to be a blessing to those God has placed in my home, but I can’t do that when I’m so caught up in my own junk that I let it touch every other part of my life. Thank you for this wake-up call. Blessings!
Betty Draper says
Honest, revealing, convicting is the words that come to me as I read your post. All things I need if anyone is going to see Christ in me especially those who live close to me. So often I just let my emotions toss me about instead of exercising self control and deney myself that ability to make wrong choices. How we all need these post that reveal the ugly that lives in us. Thanks, just the right words to start my day with.
Terri Apgar says
Your words ring so true. Oh that I would always be so honest, with myself and with God! What’s also a challenge to remember, is that we often receive that deflected odor from someone else. I receive it as a mom, wife, schoolteacher, consumer. I know I need to extend God’s grace in those moments, and replace the odor of sin, with its bitter root , with the aroma of Christ.
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Cor. 2:15)
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)
Marijo Napier says
This was awesome!! You have taken an everydayordinary occurence and given it spiritual application!
So true & thank you! Bless you for your courage in revealing a less than perfect part of yourself & blessing others for it. The bad smells in our life usually originate from the lies Satan feed us disguised in so many different ways. Bless you again sister!
Thank you for this post! I just did one of your “smelly incidents” not moments ago. You’ve made me stop and think about where my outbursts come from. I usually am blaming someone else but the true culprit is me!
Wow, thank you for this. I needed it. Like Robin, I want to smell like Him.
I so needed this today. I am sitting here in tears, convicted. I realize how often I stink as a wife, mother, teacher, friend etc. because of the choices I make. Really sad considering how fragrant God’s aroma is. Oh that I would let it wash over me continually and not mask it with my stinky sins. Thank you for letting God use you to wake us all up.
This was just what I needed today. Thank you, Mary.
lisa raftery says
Great post! Thanks for a wonderful example of writing with honesty and transparency…I’ll be paying better attention this week to “smells” in my life and their true origin.
Mary~ This was so *timely* for me, and I appreciate the way you reminded me of some things I already knew, but justified to live otherwise… thank you, friend for these words…
Diane Yuhas says
PU! I stink. Too many unkind thoughts and words emanating from my inner being lately. Circumstances don’t cause the stench – they only release it. Something’s rotten in Diane and I desperately need God to clear it out and clean it up. I need some serious sanitizing. Oh Jesus, pour your blood in and over every fiber of my being!
This spoke to me so much! Thank you for writing this. Last night, my sons room smelled like sweet potato fries fried in olive oil (hee hee… the kitchen aroma always makes its way to his room) and so to read this blog post was a huge encouragement to me. I reflected on the smell in his room and I could see those “smells” in my life too. I’m glad I’m not alone though and that we all share the same struggles as women, wives and mothers. God bless!
Do I ever! There’s a pretty nasty stench coming from me today because of all those small compromises like the ones you mentioned that lead to bigger issues. Thanks for the reminder to get back on track.
And, my daughter’s room always collects the dinner smell too 🙂
Nothing smells sweeter than Him in all. I certainly stink when I choose the other over the Best. And the aroma is worse with each step further away from Him that I take. Amen.
Mary Kelso says
How well I know the pitfalls of a traveling aroma. A) I had to laugh because I’ve learned if I want to smell my pumpkin spice candle in my bedroom, it’s best to light it in the living room. B) I have fallen victim to the aroma of getting the kids out the door for school late hitting me square in the face when my husband forgets we had plans for the evening.
Thanks for the conviction/encouragement. 🙂 This was such a great post.
What’s That Smell? — Giving Up on Perfect says
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I posted longer over at your page but wanted to encourage you here too :). Thank you friend for sharing your heart, what a great illustration here!
Yes I do. beautifuuly written piece. Thank you.
Nice job, Mary! This may be my favorite post yet!