Friday, May 23, 2014

Perfume: The Story of You

Things have been extremely quiet on EVBN. This has been (mostly) intentional. As with all of my posts, this one is yet another attempt to articulate just what it is that God is doing inside of me. I am finding it difficult this time to nail down the vocabulary to explain it. This is in part the reason for my cyber silence - lack of ability to fully explain this newest state of being.

You know that feeling when you bang your toe against the leg of the coffee table in the middle of the night and you're pretty sure that in a matter of moments you just might pee your pants from the pain and oh my goodness are you going to die? You hold your breath or jump around or, for those of us of the slightly more dramatic set, you roll around on the floor moaning and holding the throbbing appendage. You know the exact second when that pain disappears and you can inhale once again. Following that moment there is a period of time where the relief is so great it's almost its own kind of pain. Then...then there is this calm. You catch your breath and maybe just lay there for a second and think to yourself, "now, what in the heck was THAT all about?"

This is kind of where I am right now. But instead of asking myself what all of that was about, I am simply just lying there exploring the feeling of relief and lack of pain. Sometimes that contrast is so stark, so startlingly different that you have to take the time to fully grasp its meaning, to put a period at the end of the sentence that outlined all you just learned.

Right now, I am experiencing a quiet. A silence. An unbroken calm on a lake that reflects all that's above it.

I'm just...quiet.

And listening.

Not a whole lot has been said yet, but there is an atmosphere in my spirit of a kind of peace I don't think I have ever really felt before. This is new and at times confusing in its simplicity.

Something new has happened. Something truly, truly great that defies all rational explanation and I won't even cheapen it by trying. Something that if you would have told me five months ago I would be experiencing I would have looked at you through my puffy, mascara-streaked face and...well, I probably would have started crying again, but that is besides the point. I wouldn't have believed it to be possible.

I stand here on the shore after having crossed the stormy seas and am once again able to appreciate the beauty of the water.

The water is this crazy, amazing, awful, inspiring, sometimes tragic, sometimes excruciatingly wonderful life that we are privileged enough to wake up to every day. All too often we are so focused on just trying to hold on to the sides of the boat and not become shark-bait while the waters rage around us that we cannot see that even in those torrents, even in those terrible moments there is something so beautiful about life.

Yeah, there are times simply waking up is a chore and just about the only good thing you have to say about your day is that you made it through it - I know the feeling. It's been a house guest that's over stayed its welcome a time or two and left the toilet seat up. But there is something about even those horrible times that has its own patented blend of truth. A tincture that can only be distilled through the most arduous and complicated process.

I read a book once about the perfume-making process and how the very essence of a flower or spice was taken down to its most concentrated form and was then delicately mixed to create an entirely unique fragrance. The main character in the book had no natural scent of his own and spent the entirety of the story trying desperately to find something that matched who he was. He believed that a person's scent was indelibly a part of their very existence. Something to mark who they were and where they had been. It wasn't until just this moment as I sit here that I've made a connection in my mind. In the Word it says that worship is like a fragrant offering to God. What if we each, in our own way, were a completely unique blend of perfume that was made up of our hearts, a result of the shaping of our experiences, that we offer up to Him? What if we can offer Him something no one else can because no one else's life resembles our own, and so no one can offer Him the fragrant smoke of our particular blend of worship?

No one has laid awake crying the tears that I have. No one one has laughed with my brother and sister so much we can't breath. No one grew up holding the hand with the split fingernail, feeling its callouses and hearing the voice that belonged to it. No one has traced the freckles on my mother's skin. No one has felt the guilt of leaving a dying loved-one's side the night before their passing. No one has heard the painful words that have been spoken to me. No one else knows the feeling of diving into the backyard pool at two in the morning with tree frogs happily hopping onto my shoulders. No one else can add to their scent the feeling of my paintbrush sliding across my canvas, bringing to life my drawings. No one else has felt the morning dew under my feet while they walked the property of the last home my family lived in together the day before they all left it. No one else has camped on the living room floor during the summer giggling into the night. No one else has walked the woods during autumn with my hand in my mother and father's and my brother and sister laughing ahead of me. No one else can still hear my grandmother's beautiful voice telling stories of her childhood. No one else can see the Christmas tree that was my only company the night my ex-husband left. No one else can feel the triumph when I was handed my college degree. No has the same scent of life that I do.

A flower is crushed and ground to release its true essence. It must be pressed and its very cells extracted to be distilled into its richest, truest form. What if, in our struggles and triumphs, we are being pressed to become something truly incredible and beautiful so that we might be able to give the Creator something no one else can? What a wonderful thought! It makes all of those moments we face and have yet to face something to be treasured. They are rare spices that can only be blended into something truly singular by ourselves.

Reader, I have made mistakes. Quite a lot of them. I have spent literal years of my life walking in defeat because I felt I had wasted time. I felt I had been robbed or that I had freely given up happiness for one reason or another. I have wistfully looked back at times that were "happier, better, the good old days." Yet the reality of it all is that there is no such thing. Those are simply seasons and nothing to do with what lies ahead. I don't believe for a second that there is such a thing as "starting over." There is no square one. It is simply a matter of taking the next step forward. We don't live on some perpetual wheel - we are walking along a road. A road that sometimes takes us to places that we don't want to go because we take a wrong turn from the directions we were given.

But you know what's really wonderful? That even when we walk into the dark woods or we stray to another path, there are still beautifully sweet plants that we can pick up and take with us to add to the scent of our life.

This post reads as though I sat here and wrote it in one go - that's how the majority of my posts are written. The truth of it is, I have opened this entry time and time again over the past two months. I've sat and stared at the computer screen, for the first time ever not forcing the words to come out. Some nights I've added nothing, not a single period. Some nights I typed and typed only to erase it all the next day.

Not everything has to be defined. Sometimes God's greatest and most profound lessons come to us in our silence. Sometimes He wants us to to allow the scents of our experiences the time to blend together so that we can give Him the rare and wonderful fragrance of who we are.

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