Thursday, February 11, 2021

A rose by any other name...still can't smell it

I was on a run this morning when I was struck by a thought that could have easily sent me spiraling down a path of anger and self-pity. Instead, I found myself nearly giggling in the if-you-don’t-laugh-you’ll-cry sort of way. Was it not three months ago that I was leaning into the gift of fragrance? I have a long-standing history of shutting out my body - ignoring it’s cues, not providing it rest when necessary, and feeling guilty about pleasure in all forms. I have been doing the hard work of redeeming my body as a gift, a tangible way that I can communicate with God, and He with me. His provision for me comes in the form of visual beauty - snow-capped mountains, flowers beginning to peak out in spring. It comes in the form of the senses - taste, touch, smell. I have been doing the work to stay IN my body, not run or hide from it, but to slow down and recognize the ways it helps me experience God and all He offers me. 

A practical way I discovered I could do this was through the lighting of scented candles. I stumbled upon it as a means to keep me present during a much-needed night away alone at a hotel back in November. A candle that smelled like winter baking was an impulse-buy addition to the snacks I already had in my shopping basket. I brought that candle back to my hotel room, lit it, and burned it for 8 hours straight. It’s fragrance smelled divine and the mere act of burning a delicious candle for that many hours felt so indulgent and lavish. Every time I would look up from my book and see that candle burning, I would remember to breathe and smell and enjoy. And then when I left my room for a walk, I was met by a fresh wave of the fragrance when I returned.

I came home from the night at the hotel, high on candle fumes, and full of renewed vigor to burn scented candles around our home on the regular. I brought one up to the room where we do school and set it on the windowsill. It became a little ritual to light it as we began the school day. I loved the reminder to stop and smell and be present. Then enjoy the fragrance and raise a quick prayer of gratitude for my body that helps me experience these good gifts. 

Now back to the thought I had on my run this morning...I was thinking about how November was a month where I very intentionally leaned into the use of fragrance as a way to keep me present in my body, and as a means of connecting me in a new way to God. 

And then came December.

Only a handful of weeks later, I lost my ability to smell. This is the part I was thinking about today that made me laugh, in a way only one can through the gentle buffering and protection of the Holy Spirit. On most days, I think I would be furious at the injustice. (If you read my post on getting COVID, I’m quite confident my bent toward fairness showed up loud and clear). It’s so tempting to think, "Woe is me," and start to lament the audacity of God to take away my sense of smell just when I was beginning to learn to use it to draw closer to Him.

Why do hard things like this happen? I am the first to attest to the words of Romans 5 that tell us that suffering leads to perseverance which then produces character and character, hope. But why is it that sometimes God stands by as we endure hardship? What’s that about? How does a good God allow such things? I don’t know the answer to this as it’s a theological debate for the ages. But what I can say is that what happened to me on my run this morning was a divine moment of protection where I experienced the shielding of the Holy Spirit so tenderly, as He kept me from blaming God for this piece of my story.

In a rare moment of clarity, I saw things as I believe they truly are. This loss of smell is not the work of God. Rather, it’s the work of the devil, who was threatened by my growing closeness with God. He seized an opportunity to plant a seed of doubt, making a move to chisel at my faith, take away my joy, as he felt his hold on me wavering.

Some days are harder and I’m sure there will be many days ahead where I will lament and complain about the injustice of my minimized sense of taste and smell. It’s certainly nothing to be overlooked. (Believe me when I say it has contributed to a dark season of significant depression). BUT I want to document this moment, not as a big bow attempting to cover up the messiness underneath as I convince myself that it’s “okay,” but rather, as an opportunity to declare, in this moment, I have been able to see the goodness of my God in the midst of this trial. 

I don’t know how long I will be without the joy of fragrance. But as one sense is diminished, I’m quickly finding others are magnified. I’m learning to experience my food and surroundings differently as I explore texture and temperature in ways I never have before. I’m leaning into the elation I feel when moving my body. I will find new ways to stay present in this body, the tangible means through which I learn to experience God.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

posted by kelsie